08/26/09 — Alleged victim tells tale of attack

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Alleged victim tells tale of attack

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 26, 2009 1:46 PM

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Christin Godette

A witness testified Tuesday that a 16-year-old she knew entered her home and dragged her around by the hair, punching her in the face before she tried to defend herself, first with a lamp and then a heavy shoe.

Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of Christin Ray Godette, now 18, who is accused of a spree of violence that spanned over two weekends in September 2007.

Security for Godette's trial was noticeably tighter than the norm, perhaps because Godette completed an escape from Wayne County Jail after knocking a detention center officer unconscious in September 2008.

Jurors convicted Godette on counts of second-degree kidnapping and escape from a local jail in a July trial, while acquitting him of "severely injuring" the Wayne County jail employee.

On Tuesday, the court took note that Godette made attempts to circumvent devices designed to keep him in the courtroom, a bailiff said.

Also, Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones ordered that Godette stay in the courtroom during at least one short break, which is generally not standard practice, even in criminal trials.

In the lobby, Godette's mugshot was printed out on a piece of paper for the courthouse security officers who do searches and operate metal detectors at the atrium doors.

Much of Tuesday afternoon was spent by Assistant District Attorney Paige Rouse interviewing alleged Godette victim Cassandra Smith of Colonial Court.

Ms. Smith said she was asleep in her bed in her mobile home in September 2007 when she heard a "very loud bang."

"I didn't live in the greatest of neighborhoods, so I just thought somebody threw a bottle or something at my trailer," the witness said.

But then came another noise, Ms. Smith testified, and she saw "a shadow of a man coming into my bedroom."

"He pulled me out of my bed by my hair, hit me in the face several times, put me on the ground and hit me in my face several times.

"It was ... like Mike Tyson punched me in the face," the witness testified.

Ms. Smith testified that Godette pulled her into the living room.

"I told him he could take anything he wanted, and he didn't respond," Ms. Smith testified. "I grabbed a lamp that was on my table, and hit him with the lamp."

Ms. Smith said she hit Godette -- whom she says she knew as "Greg," a boy who had been in her home playing video games with her son on more than one occasion -- with the lamp shade instead of the heavy part of the lamp.

Ms. Smith then tried to scare Godette with her large Rottweiler dog by letting it out of its cage.

But the canine retreated to a bedroom and whimpered while she and Godette allegedly grappled in her mobile home, she testified.

Ms. Smith also alleged that Godette dragged her outside her mobile home, then back inside, where Ms. Smith tried to hit him with a 1970s-style wooden platform shoe.

None of Ms. Smith's attempts to stop Godette, including an attempt to scare him away by grabbing his groin, worked, she said.

Ms. Smith testified she recognized her attacker when he got within a foot of her face during the alleged assaults.

She also said that she recognized Godette's voice.

At the end of the attack, one responding Sheriff's Office detective testified, Ms. Smith was "unrecognizable" because her face was so swollen and bloody.

Although Ms. Smith testified she is sure that Godette and "Greg" are the same person, defense attorney Robert Smith of Goldsboro said he might argue that a Sheriff's Office detective acted too hastily in identifying Godette.

Ms. Smith testified that a detective brought her only one picture to examine while she was at the hospital being treated for the alleged assault.

Normally, investigators use what's called a "six pack" -- a collection of six photographs of people who bear some resemblance to the suspect.

The validity of even the "six pack" has been challenged by people who say that detectives can unfairly point defendants toward a certain suspect -- either intentionally or unintentionally.

Many areas, including North Carolina, have tried to move toward a "sequential"-style lineup, where photos of similar-looking defendants are presented to a witness one at a time.

The defense attorney said he would definitely address the issue by interviewing Detective Sgt. Rick Farfour, who the witness said presented her with the single photo.

The trial was expected to continue at 9 a.m. today.