Medrano testifies about two rapesSexual assault case begins Tuesday afternoon
The trial of Rudolph Edwards began at the Washington County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. Edwards is charged with committing sexual assault in the Washington County Jail on July 16, 2011.
As of Wednesday morning, the state had called five witnesses to testify, including the alleged sexual assault victim, Martin Medrano-Vargas. Medrano gave his testimony through an interpreter, Franklin Ruiz, who sat next to him on the witness stand. Medrano testified that he grew up in Mexico, where he obtained a sixth-grade education. He said he received no formal instruction in English and that he spoke very little of it.
Medrano said he first met Edwards in the Washington County Jail on July 16, 2011, when he was transferred to a “pod” that included himself, Edwards and two other men. The pod is a section of the jail that includes a central day room with a table with individual cells around the outside of the pod.
Each of the four men had their own cell, but they were not locked at all times. Medrano testified that Edwards entered his cell and raped him twice on the evening of July 16, 2011. Medrano said he did not consent to the sex acts with Edwards and that he told Edwards not to do them. He said he wanted to escape from his cell but he couldn’t because Edwards was bigger than he.
Medrano testified that, while Edwards was in his cell, Edwards made a throat-slitting gesture with his finger, which Medrano interpreted to mean Edwards wanted to kill him.
Medrano testified that Edwards caused him so much pain that he passed out for a few seconds. He testified that he was traumatized by the sexual assaults. He said he felt hopeless and that he didn’t want to live anymore.
Washington County Attorney Larry Brock played a video in the courtroom taken from a camera in the pod on July 16, 2011. Washington Investigator Chad Ellis said he reviewed that video and said that Medrano can be seen entering Edwards’s cell at 5:45 and exiting at 5:52 p.m.
Medrano testified that earlier that day, Edwards showed him some drawings he made. That night, he asked Medrano if he would like to come into Edwards’s cell to see more of his drawings. Medrano said he entered Edwards’s cell, but Edwards did not show him the drawings and instead kissed Medrano on the mouth. Medrano testified that Edwards forced him to perform a sex act on him.
Medrano then went back to his own cell. He said he didn’t know what to do and that he just wanted to die. He said it was not the first time he had been sexually assaulted. He said he was sexually assaulted at the age of 12 when he lived in Mexico.
Ellis testified that the video from the jail pod shows Edwards entering and exiting Medrano’s cell eight times that night, the first of which occurred at 5:30 p.m. and the last of which occurred at 9:59 p.m. In most of those instances, Edwards was in Medrano’s cell for less than five minutes, except when he entered at 7:04 p.m. and exited at 7:40 p.m.
Ellis took photos of the interior of Medrano’s jail cell. He said he took a photo of the intercom in Medrano’s cell because it was covered with a wet paper towel. Medrano said that Edwards put the paper towel over it.
Medrano testified he did not know what the intercom system was for and that he was never shown how to use it.
Angelica Hernandez worked as a jailer in the Washington County Jail at the time, and she testified in court. Medrano had been at the Washington County Jail since June 28, 2011. Hernandez is bilingual in Spanish and English and said she always spoke to Medrano in Spanish.
When Hernandez was counting the inmates at around 11 p.m. on July 16, 2011, she noticed that Medrano was in his cell crying. She asked him why he was crying and he said that he was violated twice by “el moreno” meaning the dark-skinned man (Edwards is an African-American).
Hernandez informed Washington County deputy Robyn Hoppman of what she heard. Hoppman interviewed Medrano while Hernandez acted as the interpreter. Hernandez also interpreted when Medrano was taken to the hospital on July 17, 2011.
Hernandez said she noticed a change in Medrano’s behavior after the incident. She said he stopped eating and that he had nausea. She said he told her about hallucinations he had about imagining blood on the walls. She said his appetite became a concern to the jail staff and that he was later transferred to the Henry County Jail.
See Thursday’s edition of The Washington Evening Journal for more coverage of this story.