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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Viola Kansas: Trial begins for alledged kidnapper/rapist Robert Abner

Right: Robert Abner

Trial starts in Viola woman's abduction
The Wichita Eagle

It is an unusual case that drew wide media attention: In June 2008, according to authorities and testimony at a preliminary hearing, an armed robber abducted Joyce Patterson, then 48, from the Viola convenience store where she worked as a clerk.

Her friends and family and people who didn't know her prayed for her safe return.

The abductor held her for about four days at his north Wichita home, where he sexually assaulted her, authorities said.

Then the abductor dropped her off at her family's minister's home before going to Oregon, where he was arrested, authorities said.

Jury selection in Robert Abner's trial began Tuesday and will continue this morning in Sedgwick County District Court. Patterson is expected to testify as early as late today but more likely on Thursday. It's not clear whether Abner will testify.

Abner, 39 at the time he was charged last summer, faces 10 charges: aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and six counts of rape.
Before his arrest, Abner had worked as a carpenter.

In court Tuesday, lawyers on both sides tried to trim a pool of 45 prospective jurors to 12 people who can form an impartial jury. For several hours, a prosecutor and defense lawyer questioned the people on whether they could be fair and consider only evidence presented at trial.

The lead prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Marc Bennett, asked if they had an expectation of what Patterson's demeanor should be on the witness stand -- if they expected her to cry, for example. Would, he asked, they "need to see she's emotionally scarred" before they would consider her a credible witness?

Bennett also asked them if they had been a victim of a sex crime or knew someone who had been or if they knew someone accused of such a crime. Bennett said he needed to know of anything that would keep them from impartially weighing evidence.

Both Bennett and Lacy Gilmour, an assistant public defender, asked jurors how much they knew about the case from the media. Many of them said they saw something about the case.
"Sometimes you don't get both sides of the story," Gilmour said.

And one by one, she asked them if they were leaders or followers. Most said they were leaders or a mix of the two.

Viola Kansas Trial begins for Robert Abner accused in store clerk kidnapping
May 27, 2009

WICHITA, Kansas -- Opening statements began in the trial of Robert Abner -- the man accused of kidnapping a Viola store clerk last summer. Abner faces 10 counts, including kidnapping, rape and sodomy.

No one is disputing that Robert Abner kidnapped the Viola store clerk and kept her tied up at times at his Wichita home for four days, where the two had sexual relations several times.

Prosecutors say she was kidnapped and raped, but defense attorneys maintain that the clerk went along willfully and consented to the sex because she was stressed out, in a bad marriage and didn't want to go back home.

!!!! omg this pisses me off. That is really his defense? She wanted it? He kidnapped her from her job! He had stalked her enough to know she would be there late at night by herself. That is probably the only store open in Viola all night. What--did he just get lucky to find a woman who would abandon her job and husband to go "do-it" with some random customer? Good god.

Over the time that the woman and Abner spent together, prosecutors say the woman went out of her way to not look at Abner's face even keeping a T-shirt over her face, telling Abner she didn't want to be able to describe him to police. She felt it that would make Abner feel safer and he would let her go home.

Prosecutors say she feared for her life the entire time. The defense, however, says she could have left anytime she wanted to.

"There is a difference between consent and submission," said prosecutor Marc Bennett. "She wasn't forced to stay with him, she wasn't forced to have sex," said defense attorney Jama Mitchell. "Certainly there is a difference between consent and submission. There is a fine line between submission and permission."

Testimony resumes in the trial Thursday when the clerk is expected to take the stand.

Jama Mitchell, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Just a note. I usually do not print the names of victims, however, Joyce went back to work after she was released and spoke for an article in The Wichita Eagle, identifying herself and thanking all of the people who had looked for her and who still watch out for her. She said people come into the store and say something nice to her, or even ask if they can hug her. She said this would not keep her from living her life. Bless you girl.

Viola is southwest of Wichita, just south of the intersection of Kansas highways 42 and 49. The population hovers around 200, there are seven streets, including the highway. Check it out here Viola, Kansas.

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