By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
The jury heard the first witnesses in the trial of Larry Dale Benson Tuesday in 13th District Court in Navarro County.
Benson is being tried in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a 26-year-old woman on Oct. 19, 2008, at Napoli’s in downtown Corsicana.
He is the second person to be tried in this same assault incident. Albert Krivaqa was found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail for the crime and a $5,000 fine.
The woman, whose name is withheld because the Corsicana Daily Sun doesn’t identify sexual assault victims, testified that she went out with some girlfriends drinking that night and ended up at Napoli’s where she met the two men. After dancing with the defendant, she testified that Krivaqa took her upstairs and raped her in an apartment above the restaurant, then the defendant and Krivaqa both assaulted her at the same time.
In voir dire, Benson’s attorney, Chris Lewis, said the jury would learn that the sex was consensual, that the victim was crying out because she regretted her decisions, and his client did not initiate anything.
Under cross-examination Tuesday afternoon, the woman’s testimony was found to be contradictory in several instances.
For example, she was asked if any of the photos of bruising taken at the hospital were created by Benson, and she said “possibly,” but Lewis then reminded her that in previous statements she had said that all the bruises were caused by “Albert.”
She also testified that she wouldn’t benefit from pursuing the rape charges, but then Lewis asked her if she hadn’t filed a civil suit against her two alleged assailants and the owners of Napoli’s, and she said she had.
“So you very much have something to gain, personally, emotionally and financially?” Lewis asked her.
“Correct, but dropping this case wouldn’t determine my civil case,” she said.
The woman testified that she had five drinks total that night, four at the now-defunct Black Jack McCanless’ restaurant before going to Napoli’s, where she had one more drink. She said she felt ill, clammy and had a headache when she met the two men at the bar, danced at least one dance and possibly as many as three, spoke with them in a fake Spanish accent, and then agreed to go upstairs with Krivaqa. It was there that it turned to kissing and then she testified that it went too far and she said he raped her. She testified that the two of them returned later, and both assaulted her at the same time. After that, she passed out, woke up, passed out, then woke up again before dressing, going out into the hall and finding the owner’s wife who helped her downstairs and let her use the phone to dial 911.
Under cross-examination, she was asked if she was so ill and wanted to go home why she “role played” with the accent, or why she danced with them. Several times she said she couldn’t recall the specifics of that portion of her evening.
“This has been four years ago. It’s hard to remember these details,” the woman said.
The Navarro County jury was seated Tuesday morning, and consists of eight men, four women, and one female alternate. Judge James Lagomarsino is hearing the case. The lead prosecutor is Assistant District Attorney Amy Cadwell. Trial will resume at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email: email@example.com