Jury finds man guilty of first-degree rape

Jul. 17, 2013 @ 05:09 PM

A jury took only 40 minutes to find Willie J. Barkley guilty of first-degree rape and first-degree burglary Wednesday, even though the victim did not participate in his prosecution.
The jurors began deliberating about 2:50 p.m. and announced they had a verdict at 3:34 p.m. He will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Barkley, 39, asked if his sentencing could be delayed until Thursday morning to give his attorney a chance to contact his pastor and a friend to request their presence at the hearing, and Superior Court Judge Carl Fox granted his request.
Barkley could be sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to his attorney, Woody Vann.
Durham Police Officers Joseph E. Harris and Andrew Wilkinson testified they were dispatched to a disturbance call on Clarendon Street about 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2012, and they saw Calvin Mitchell waving them over from the porch of the duplex.
Mitchell whispered to them that a man was raping a woman inside the apartment, they said.
With their guns drawn, the officers entered the bedroom and saw Barkley, who was naked, on top of a naked woman having intercourse on the bed. Barkley held a steak knife in his hand inches away from the victim, they testified.
Mitchell, whose job was to live in the house, keep it clean and sell drugs there for a man named "Black," testified that he was asleep when Barkley kicked in the door, came in the bedroom and stabbed the bed where he was sleeping.
Barkley grabbed the woman, who had been in the bathroom, told Mitchell to get out of the bedroom, then pushed her down on the bed and began raping her, Mitchell testified.
Immediately after the incident, the woman cooperated with police, had a sexual assault examination done at a hospital, but then disappeared. Police were not able to locate her for the trial.
During part of her closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Kelly Gauger displayed the woman's photograph on a big screen in the courtroom.
No one knows much about the woman or even her real name, Gauger said, "but here's the thing. Nobody. Nobody deserves to be raped."
Vann told the jury during his closing argument that the officers did not know what had occurred between Barkley and the woman earlier in the day when the two left the house on Clarendon Street together.
"It's what happened before that they can't give any information about, so they have to rely on some degree on Mr. Mitchell," Vann said.
Vann told the jurors that Mitchell couldn't be believed. Besides having a record of manslaughter and rape himself, Mitchell changed his story and forgot to tell the jury he had seen Barkley and the woman leave together earlier in the day.
What did they talk about, Vann asked. If there was a decision between Barkley and the woman to do something later that night, there is no way to know that because the woman is not here to testify, he said.
People engage in all sorts of sexual behavior, he said.
Life in some neighborhoods in Durham is completely different than the lives most people live, he said. It may have been Valentine's Day, but for people addicted to drugs, it was just another day of people trying to get drugs and selling themselves for drugs, he said.
The fact that Barkley had a knife with him that night wasn't unusual, Vann said.
"This is not Woodcroft," Vann said. "This is downtown Durham."
"To be honest, he may have been under-weaponed," Vann said.