RINGGOLD, Ga. — Jurors will resume deliberating in the rape and kidnapping trial of James Leon Works Jr. this morning.
The group began contemplating the 22 charges against Works — which also include aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and possession of a knife or gun in the commission of a crime — around 4 p.m. Monday. Judge Kristina Cook Graham sent them home for the day after about an hour.
Charges against James Leon Works Jr.
› Three counts of rape
› Eight counts of aggravated sodomy
› Four counts of aggravated assault
› Five counts of possession of a firearm or knife in the commission of a crime
› False imprisonment
An ex-girlfriend has accused Works of holding her against her will at his uncle's Fort Oglethorpe home for about three days in December 2015. She said he beat her, had sex with her against her will and forced her to remain nude.
The woman also accused Works of kidnapping and rape in a Chattanooga hotel in 2014. But weeks after she made the accusation, she said Chattanooga police Detective Karl Fields pursued a sexual relationship with her. Fields was fired, and Works pleaded guilty to reduced charges, allowing him to leave after spending about 13 months in jail.
During his closing argument Monday, Public Defender David Dunn said the accuser in this case is not reliable. He said she sued the city of Chattanooga for $6 million because of how Fields treated her, though the lawsuit didn't go anywhere after her lawyers withdrew. Dunn also told the jury that, even after making the allegations in 2014, the woman returned to Works a year later.
Unlike dependent victims in other violent relationships, he said, the woman had no reason to return to Works. They weren't married, they don't have any children together, and she doesn't depend on him for money. Dunn said she and Works engaged in rough sex for their own arousal, justifying the bruises investigators found on her after she left his uncle's home.
"She told all about how it happened the first time," Dunn yelled, pointing at the accuser. "And she goes back to him again. What other explanation is there for that? What other explanation can there be?"
"Kidnapping!" he added, going through the charges his client faced. "Kidnapping? Really? What's the evidence? She called him, where he stayed. And she stayed. They want to call that kidnapping?"
But Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Clay Fuller said the bruises in this case prove that Works abused the accuser. He showed the jury photos showing black marks on her temple, below her eye and on her chest. He also reminded the jury of a nurse's testimony: that she found evidence of force while examining the accuser's vagina.
Last week, Fuller also brought four women to the stand who had previously dated Works. Going back to the late 1990s, all four described abusive relationships in which Works allegedly hit them several times. Two of the women had accused him of rape, though one woman later recanted her statement to a detective. In the other woman's case, Works pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted aggravated domestic assault in Hamilton County in August. He received a three-year sentence, though two of those years will be suspended after he serves 11 months and 29 days in jail.
Dunn argued that bringing these other women to the stand was a ploy to confuse the jury, as was throwing 22 counts at Works. Dunn pointed out that Works was only on the stand for allegedly abusing one woman. But Fuller said these other women's testimonies prove a pattern.
"He gets off on beating women, making them bleed and forcing them to have sex," Fuller said.
At the end of his closing arguments, he stood over Works, stared at him and stabbed his finger toward him.
"For three decades, you have beat women," he said. "For three decades, you have sodomized women. For three decades "
Dunn stood up and yelled, "Objection!" He yelled that Fuller was overstepping the bounds of what a lawyer could do during a closing argument. Graham ruled that Fuller could continue.
"The evidence will show he is a rapist," Fuller said. "And time is up."
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.