Once everything was quiet, the woman crawled out of the bathroom and scanned the torn-up apartment. She didn't grab the cooking grease she came for in the first place. She didn't talk about what just happened. She hurried back to her nearby unit, changed her pants, and was confronted by Chattanooga officers minutes later who had a very important message: Hang onto the clothes.
If she had just been raped, she would need every shred of evidence possible.
The woman, now 41, painted that image Tuesday in Hamilton County Criminal Court of the moments after Orlando Evans allegedly raped her during a robbery at a Cromwell Heights apartment in November 2006.
The woman, who is not identified under Times Free Press policy on alleged victims of sexual assault, was the second witness prosecutors called on the opening day of Evans' criminal trial. The 26-year-old faces especially aggravated robbery and aggravated rape charges. Each is a Class A felony that carries 15-60 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Demastus said Evans and two other men stormed into an elderly neighbor's apartment where the woman was getting cooking grease for dinner on Nov. 30, 2006. She would often chat with her neighbor, a handicapped man who offered life advice. The men were armed and demanding cash.
"But when they couldn't get the money ... [Mr. Evans] decided the next best thing to get was going to be the privacy, the confidence, the self-respect, the emotions, the essence of [the victim]," Demastus said. "And when he went into that bathroom, and he decided to rape her, that's exactly what he took from her."
The woman said she didn't know the men, one of whom had on a mask with holes cut out over his eyes and mouth. She spoke to officers that night, had DNA swabs taken, and learned to live with the trauma, she said.
No suspects were identified at the time, but on Dec. 2, 2013, an investigator reported a DNA sample obtained from Evans was a match with evidence taken from the investigation's rape kit. Even in the courtroom Tuesday, the woman said she didn't know anything about Evans, who was a minor at the time of the alleged crime, until the DNA match was made.
Attorney Zak Newman, who is representing Evans, said the presence of DNA itself does not prove a rape.
"This case will involve two competing stories," Newman said during opening statements. "[The woman's] story, and I believe you will hear from Mr. Evans. What I want you to do, and what I'm going to ask, is to wait until the end of all the proof to decide."
The trial continues today at 9:30 a.m. before Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at email@example.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.