Originally created 11/27/02

Lawyers play tape of 911 call



GASTONIA, N.C. - As prosecutors rested their case Tuesday against rape suspect Aaron LeBlanc, the last evidence jurors heard was the voice of the alleged victim speaking to a police dispatcher.

"He had a knife and put it to my throat and raped me," the jury heard her say. The wail that followed left her family members in the courtroom in tears Tuesday.

Two Augusta women who accused Mr. LeBlanc of rape also cried as the recording played in Gaston County Superior Court.

Less than a month before the alleged rape in Gastonia, Mr. LeBlanc was acquitted in Richmond County Superior Court of charges he had raped them and another Augusta woman.

The alleged North Carolina rape happened in the woman's Gastonia apartment just before 7 a.m. March 18, she said in court last week. On Tuesday, as Gastonia Police Detective James Anderson read from her written account, jurors learned why the woman said she was in a panic when she fled her apartment.

She wrote that Mr. LeBlanc was pacing her living room afterward, "freaked" because she was bleeding from a cut on her face and afraid that her friend on the telephone might have heard something.

"I'm going to have to kill you now," Mr. LeBlanc said repeatedly, according to her account.

She had told Mr. LeBlanc that it was her cousin on the phone, one who lived in West Virginia and didn't know her address, she testified. But it actually was her best friend, Sybil Derry of Charlotte, on the phone.

A recording of Ms. Derry's frantic call to the 911 dispatcher also was played for jurors. Her voice rose in frustration as she begged the dispatcher to send police to her friend's apartment.

"He's threatened to kill her if she told. He is still in her apartment," Ms. Derry shouted.

At a March bond hearing, the prosecutor said Mr. LeBlanc had told detectives that there was no rape and that he wasn't in the woman's apartment - where, according to trial witnesses, his blood was found.

On March 18, both the woman and Mr. LeBlanc had cuts; hers was serious enough to require stitches.

Mr. LeBlanc told detectives that he saw her in a common area of the apartment complex and asked for a cigarette. Mr. LeBlanc said the woman became irate and struck him, then he hit her back, the prosecutor said.

Gastonia Police Detective Mike Chambers testified Tuesday that Mr. LeBlanc had a pack of cigarettes in his pocket when he was arrested.

At the time, Mr. LeBlanc was staying with his brother, Rene "Joey" LeBlanc III, whose apartment was next to the woman's.

The woman testified that she allowed Aaron LeBlanc into her apartment to use the bathroom because he said the toilet in his apartment wasn't working.

On Tuesday, Joey LeBlanc testified that nothing was wrong with the toilet in their apartment March 18. As he left the stand Tuesday afternoon, Joey LeBlanc sat in the courtroom with his brother's accusers - across the room from his mother and other family members.

On Monday, if he and his attorney choose, Mr. LeBlanc, 20, who has pleaded innocent to the charges, can present witnesses and evidence. His defense attorney refused to say Tuesday whether Mr. LeBlanc will testify.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.