Jurors will hear opening statements today in the trial of a 29-year-old Lakewood man who is accused of raping his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint in her Lacey apartment last year, and then, one month later, violating his conditions of release by following her on state Route 512 in Pierce County.
Aaron Mercedes Johnson is charged in Thurston County Superior Court with first-degree rape while armed with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping while armed with a deadly weapon, first-degree burglary while armed with a deadly weapon, felony harassment, felony stalking and fourth-degree assault.
Johnson is again out of custody after posting $100,000 bail, a jail official said Tuesday.
About a month after Johnson’s May 2012 arrest on suspicion of rape, a state trooper pulled him over on state Route 512. The woman had called 911 when she noticed Johnson following her in a black BMW, a trooper said last year.
When the trooper searched Johnson’s car, he found “a woman’s wig, some oversized sunglasses, a pair of black gloves and a roll of duct tape,” according to the patrol. Johnson was subsequently charged with a count of felony stalking for allegedly violating the protection order requiring him to stay away from her.
Following Johnson’s rearrest after he was pulled over June 22, trooper Guy Gill said, “People don’t carry that around in their car. Do I think he had bad intentions? Absolutely.” According to the patrol, after being pulled over, Johnson said he was going to meet a friend at a restaurant, but could not give a name.
The prosecution team and Johnson’s attorney, Matthew Lapin of Seattle, picked a jury for Johnson’s trial Tuesday afternoon in Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon’s courtroom.
According to court documents:
The woman reported the rape May 14. She told police that as she was leaving her College Street apartment for work that afternoon, she was met by Johnson outside her door, “and he immediately placed his hand over her mouth and shoved her back in the apartment.” She said he told her he was going to kill her and displayed an automatic handgun in a holster on his right hip. She said he also had a baton and zip ties. When she tried to grab her cellphone, she said he took it from her and put it in his pocket. She said he continued to make statements about killing her, then himself, and then raped her.
She told police she had recently broken up with Johnson after a two-year relationship, and that he’d been calling her so frequently that she had to change her phone number.
Lacey police tracked Johnson to his home in Lakewood the night of the alleged rape, and arrested him. When executing a search warrant at the home, police found a backpack similar to one the woman had said Johnson was carrying when he entered her home.
The backpack contained a handsaw, duct tape, a shovel, zip ties, a large hunting knife, black leather gloves, a black stocking hat and gloves.
During an interview with police, Johnson denied raping the woman, but admitted to going to her apartment, waiting for her to leave for work, placing his hand over her mouth and entering the residence. He also denied making threats to harm her.
Johnson subsequently posted $50,000 bail and agreed to stay away from the woman as a condition of his release. He was then rearrested for allegedly violating the no-contact order.