Trial begins for man accused of raping sleeping woman
PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire Superior Court trial of a Pittsfield man accused of sexually assaulting a woman as she slept next to her boyfriend the night before Valentine’s Day 2010 got underway on Thursday with opening statements by the attorneys.
"Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction," Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Marianne Shelvey told the jury during her opening statement in the rape trial of 23-year-old Stephen K. Matthews.
According to Shelvey, on Feb. 13, 2010 the alleged victim exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts with the man she would eventually marry after putting their children to bed. The couple then spent time together before the woman took some prescribed medicine and went to bed.
Her boyfriend stayed up and hung out with the defendant, a friend of the couple, before he too went to sleep. Later that night the woman, who was 27 at the time, said she was sexually assaulted by Matthews.
Shelvey told the jury that there was a partial confession from Matthews after his arrest by the Pittsfield Police as well as DNA evidence of the crime.
Matthews’ attorney, Jill Sheldon, said her client denies he committed the crimes.
There were problems with the alleged confession made by Matthews, who suffers from mental and emotional problems, said Sheldon, as well as questions about the DNA evidence in the case.
DNA experts for both sides are scheduled to testify on Friday.
Five months ago, Johnathan L. LaBounty, 25, was found not guilty of rape after a five-day Superior Court trial. His attorney told the jury in that case that the charges leveled against his client were retaliation for these allegations, which involved a family member of LaBounty. The woman who accused LaBounty of rape is a relative of Matthews.
Matthews’ case is before Judge Daniel A. Ford and will likely end early next week.
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