By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
RESERVE Sergeant Dwayne Decosta is no longer charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl last year, his attorney revealed yesterday.
Murrio Ducille said instead of being charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, Decosta is now charged with abduction and assault. The sex charge fell away at the no-case submission stage of the trial.
However, on Mr Ducille's advice the 56-year-old reservist elected to remain silent and not to give any evidence to counteract the Crown's claims, though he maintained: "I'm innocent of all charges."
As a result of Decosta's new charges, Mr Ducille appealed to the jury to apply "common sense" in deciding his client's fate, as he questioned how his client could be made to answer to an assault charge when the court ruled he had no case to answer on the unlawful sexual intercourse charge.
The attorney also insisted that no evidence has been led during the trial to satisfy any of the charges, hence his client's choice to remain silent despite having "the sword of Damocles over his head".
"You could take ten microscopes and look at it; you can't find any evidence," Mr Ducille said.
Decosta is on trial concerning an alleged incident that occurred at the South Beach Police Station on July 14, 2018.
Previously, it was alleged that Decosta penetrated the 13-year-old digitally and made her perform oral sex on him in a room upstairs in the station's fire services garage. It was alleged the acts occurred while Decosta was working the 1am to noon shift. The allegations emerged from a statement the girl gave to Inspector Altida Bowles in her mother's presence on the same date of the incident.
It was alleged that after being taken to the police station by her father's neighbour at around 6am on the date in question, and while sitting in the foyer, an officer in navy blue called the girl from the foyer and directed her to a room upstairs at the rear of the building.
According to the evidence, Decosta beckoned for the girl to come outside at 11.53am.
While upstairs in the fire services garage, Decosta was alleged to have forced the girl to commit sex acts.
According to the evidence, the girl returned to the foyer at 12.21pm.
However, the girl has since denied telling police about any sexual acts allegedly committed by Decosta, and in fact said the contents of her statement were "incorrect".
The teenager said although she signed her statement, she did not read it over before she signed, and neither was it read back to her by the interviewing officer. She also said she didn't sign the document truthfully.
The girl also testified in open court that she could not remember if her mother was present during the interview.
And those admissions came after she doubled down on her previous testimony that "nothing" sexual happened between her and Decosta at the South Beach Police Station.
However, Insp Bowles, who took the statement from the girl and conducted Decosta's record of interview, has since said that not only did she read the 14-year-old's statement back to her, but the eighth grader signed it "in four places" along with her mother before she herself signed it.
During yesterday's proceedings, Mr Ducille said the girl's testimony was devoid of any proof that it was Decosta who did anything to her concerning any of the charges. Mr Ducille also noted that in the girl's statement to police, there are only references to "the officer". No evidence has since been led, particularly through the Crown's "star witness" to identify Decosta as "the officer", Mr Ducille said.
Additionally, Mr Ducille said the girl said nothing to incriminate his client when she took the stand, other than to say "nothing" happened between her and Decosta on the date in question. Thus, he said the girl's admissions were a "double whammy" for the Crown, as not only did she essentially give evidence in Decosta's favor, the admissions came during the Crown's case, and not during cross examination.
Mr Ducille also noted that there was no medical evidence adduced during trial, something he said should have been before the court for such a case, particularly due to the fact that there is evidence that the girl was taken to hospital and examined after the alleged incident.
Mr Ducille lamented the fact that his client is standing trial because of the "so-called complainant who has not complained to this court that this man did anything to her".
Meanwhile, lead Crown prosecutor Jacqueline Burrows argued that the girl was a "vulnerable" state at the time of the incident, borne out of the fact that she was taken to the police station after being dropped off by her father's house by her mother and "neglected". Ms Burrows said Decosta was well aware of that fact, as he took down an incident report from her.
Thus, Ms Burrows asked "for what reason might one lie", and further questioned the likelihood of the girl having any ulterior motive for telling such a story.
Ms Burrows further noted that although the girl was unwilling to tell her true story in court, she appeared to be a "reluctant" witness for whatever reason. Ms Burrows further noted that at one point while giving her evidence from the witness stand, the girl was "shaking" for reasons unknown.
In any event, Ms Burrows admonished the jury to accept whatever evidence the girl was willing to give, which was her confirming that she told police that while inside the station, an officer wearing navy blue, alleged to be Decosta, approached her. She initially denied telling police that the officer called her outside, but then told the prosecutor that an officer did in fact call her outside.
The teenager went on to confirm that she told police that Decosta told her to go to the rear of the building, which she said she did. She confirmed that she told police that Decosta followed her to the rear of the building before instructing her to take a flight of stairs. She said she told police that Decosta was behind her the entire time.
According to the evidence, that area of the fire services shed is "restricted" and not operational due to mold. Civilians in particular are not allowed in that area, according to the evidence.