Originally created 04/12/06

Absent witness stalls trial



The missing witness in Paul C. Hampton's third sexual assault case led to a postponement Tuesday.

If she cannot be found by this morning, Mr. Hampton's trial in Richmond County Superior Court will be continued until the next term of court, Judge Michael N. Annis told attorneys Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright warned the judge Monday that the prosecution team recently had been unable to find the alleged victim in the Aug. 3, 2004, attack.

Ms. Wright said she spoke to the woman last month, confirming that she intended to cooperate with Mr. Hampton's prosecution. The woman can be difficult to find because she doesn't have a home, Ms. Wright said.

Mr. Hampton has been held in jail without bond since his arrest nearly two years ago. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, aggravated sodomy and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.

Mr. Hampton was convicted of kidnapping and aggravated assault with the intent to rape for a June 1988 attack. The victim in that case is expected to testify against him in the pending case.

Mr. Hampton had another sexual assault case dating to the late 1970s. He served time in prison for both attacks. The victim in the first case could not be found, and evidence from that case will not be allowed in the pending case, a judge has ruled.

In the 2004 case, Mr. Hampton is accused of knocking a woman unconscious and sexually assaulting her behind a Wrightsboro Road building.

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