Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Defense rests on Edwards case

Edwards’s interrogation shown
By Andy Hallman | Jan 17, 2013

Rudolph Edwards’s defense rested Wednesday afternoon without calling Edwards to the stand to defend himself against a charge of sexual assault.
The only evidence about Edwards’s activities that the jury heard came from prosecution witness Martin Medrano Vargas, the alleged victim, Washington County Investigator Chad Ellis and a video-taped interrogation of Edwards recorded a few hours after the alleged rape, which was submitted into evidence by the prosecution.
Medrano testified that Edwards sexually assaulted him multiple times on the evening of July 16, 2011, while both men were inmates at the Washington County Jail.
The interrogation video was taken at 2:25 a.m. on July 17, 2011 and lasted 37 minutes. Ellis read Edwards his rights, and before Ellis asked him any questions or told him why he was questioning him, Edwards requested a lie detector test to prove his innocence.
Edwards said he thought he was being charged with a crime since Ellis read him his rights. Ellis explained that he does that to people who are in his custody for questioning, and that it does not mean Edwards is being charged with a crime.
Edwards admitted that he had sex with Medrano, but insisted the sex was consensual. He told Ellis that Medrano was the one who approached him about having sex by telling Edwards he was a good-looking man. Edwards said he and Medrano kissed each other and touched each other’s privates.  
Throughout the interview, Edwards told Ellis that he believed somebody must have “put [Medrano] up to this.”
“This whole situation is a set-up,” Edwards said in the interrogation.
Edwards said he knew why he was being interrogated because he overheard Medrano talking to a jailer in Spanish, and then hearing that jailer tell another employee in English that Medrano had been violated.
Edwards said he has been locked up all his life since he turned 21 years old (Edwards is now 42). He said he has had consensual relationships with people in jail before.
Edwards offered to pay for his own lie detector test, and that he would even pay for Medrano to take a lie detector test.
“I wish I was hooked up to the [expletive] right now,” Edwards said. “I don’t need extra charges. I’m already in here for something bogus.”
At that time, Edwards was being housed in the Washington County Jail on a charge of willful injury in Johnson County.
The “pod” at the jail where Edwards and Medrano lived also housed two other inmates. Each of those inmates had his own cell but would share the common area where the picnic table was located. The cells had doors but they were only locked at certain times of the day.  
Ellis interviewed those two inmates, neither of whom said they knew anything about a sexual assault at the jail. Ellis did not record either of those interviews.
Shortly after the incident on July 16, 2011, Medrano was transferred back to the Henry County Jail, where he had stayed for a few days in late June and where he was initially processed. While there, Medrano informed a jailer he was able to remember additional details concerning injuries to his genitals inflicted by Edwards.
In September 2011, Medrano was taken to see a medical doctor about his injuries. The medical report did not find any injuries to Medrano’s genitals. Ellis said that when he learned the medical report came back negative for injuries, he did not feel it was necessary to interview Medrano again at that time.
The two defense witnesses to testify were Washington County Jailer Katherine Bell and Henry County Jailer Jean Lawler.
Bell has worked at the Washington County Jail since April 2012. She was not at the jail at the time of the incident in July 2011, but she has had contact with Medrano since he was transferred to the Washington County Jail as a material witness in the fall of 2012.
Bell said Medrano can speak a “basic level of English” although he is “less than fluent.” She said she has heard him speaking to other inmates in English.
Ellis interviewed Medrano in November 2012, an interview for which Bell interpreted. Ellis asked Medrano about the additional details of his alleged rape that had surfaced in a newspaper column. Bell said Medrano’s recollection was vague and inconsistent and that Medrano was nervous.
Lawler testified that Medrano was booked into the Henry County Jail on June 29, 2011. An immigration hold was placed on him, meaning that he couldn’t leave the facility even if he posted bond for his identity theft charge. Lawler said that Medrano would have been informed of his immigration hold.
After Medrano was transferred back to the Henry County Jail on Sept. 6, 2011, he told the staff that he was able to remember more details about his alleged sexual assault. He told the staff that he experienced pain when he urinated. The jailers took him to see a doctor, but the exam showed no signs he was injured.
On cross-examination, Lawler said she noticed a definite change in Medrano’s behavior from the first time she processed him in June to his return to the jail in September. She said he seemed quite happy before and that he smiled a lot.
“There was a noticeable change in his demeanor,” she said. “He ate very little. He said he saw blood in his drink and his food, and that he saw blood coming from the walls.”
Lawler said Medrano was still seeing the face of his attacker, so he covered his own face with a sheet.
A few documents that were in the court record but were not testified to directly in court were a pair of letters, one written by a psychiatrist, Dr. Siddharth Bajpai, from the University of Iowa and another written by a therapist, Brian Simmons, at the River Hills Behavior Center.
On Aug. 24, 2011, Bajpai wrote that Medrano had signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, that he had a depressed mood and that he was being treated with medications and psychotherapy to deal with the disorders.
On Dec. 28, 2011, Simmons wrote that River Hills assessed Medrano on Oct. 19, 2011 and that weekly therapy sessions were scheduled for him at that time. Simmons wrote that Medrano was responding slowly to the therapist and interpreter staff, but that extensive treatment was anticipated for problems of that magnitude.

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