Ex-girlfriend takes the stand in Lacey rape case

Staff writerApril 29, 2013 

A 27-year-old woman who has accused her ex-boyfriend of raping her at gunpoint in her Lacey apartment last year testified Monday that after he forced his way into her home, he told her that he was going to kill her, then himself, so she agreed to have sex with him in her bedroom.

Taking the witness stand in the jury trial, the woman said that she told Aaron Mercedes Johnson “no” at first during the May 14 encounter, then changed her mind.

“I said, okay, that’s fine, but you’re going to leave the gun out here,” she testified. She further testified that Johnson then held the gun he was carrying in a shoulder holster out to her, but she refused to take it. She said he then took the “clip” out of the gun, and placed the gun and the clip on a table in the living room before they went to the bedroom and had sex.

She said that she felt like if she didn’t go along with his suggestion to have sex, “that he was going to take my life.” She testified that when he forced his way into the apartment, he was armed with a baton, the handgun he was wearing in a shoulder holster and a backpack that contained zip ties and a knife.

Johnson, 29, is on trial in Thurston County Superior Court on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary, all while armed with a deadly weapon. He is additionally charged with felony harassment, felony stalking and fourth-degree assault. The charges stem from the alleged rape and an incident that occurred about a month later, when he was accused of violating the conditions of his bail requiring him to stay away from his ex-girlfriend when he followed her in a black BMW on state Route 512 in Pierce County.

During the ex-girlfriend’s testimony, she told the jury about the demise of their “on-again, off-again,” two-year relationship, and Johnson’s refusal to leave her alone when she tried to end all contact. She also spoke about Johnson interrupting a date she had on her birthday in April 2012, when Johnson intercepted her in the parking lot of her College Street apartment and told a man she was going out with that she was his girlfriend.

“Mr. Johnson bent down and said ‘This is my girlfriend, so you have to leave,’” she testified.

She then testified that the next time she saw Johnson was when she was leaving for work the morning of May 14, when she opened her door only to be met immediately by Johnson, who put his hand over her mouth, would not let her exit, and forced his way in. She said she wanted to use her phone to call 911, but he took the phone from her and “told me I wasn’t leaving,” locking the front door behind him.

She said that Johnson later allowed her to call her work as he sat next to her, and she told them she was going to be late. She said he told her to “not tell anybody I’m ... here” before she made the call. She said during the time he was in her apartment, he had an expression on his face that she had never seen before.

“He had no soul, there was just an emptiness in his face,” she said.

During about a two and a half hour conversation in the living room, she said Johnson asked her about the man she was going to go out with on her birthday. She said she was scared, and she asked him “what are the zip ties for?” She said he replied, “I’m going to tie you to yourself.”

“I was just trying to be the person he wanted me to be at that point,” she said. “Because I was scared.”

She said he also later told her, “If I can’t have you, no one can have you.”

“Who says that to somebody?” she testified.

She said that he later said he would kill her, then himself, then later told her that he would not hurt her, but would only kill himself. After that, he suggested that they have sex.

Johnson’s attorney, Matthew Lapin, asserted to the jury during his opening statement that Johnson did not rape the woman because the sex was consensual. Lapin also told the jury that Johnson told her he was not going to hurt her.

Lapin also has said that Johnson, who was honorably discharged from the military in 2007 after serving in the Middle East, and who worked in private security after returning to Washington, always carried a firearm and had a concealed-carry permit. His ex-girlfriend testified Monday that Johnson did sometimes carry his firearm when they were together, but added that he usually kept it in the glove box of his car. Lapin said last week during opening statements that Johnson “went over there, not for the purpose of threatening her or trying to scare her, but to try and win her back.”

The woman was questioned by Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Craig Juris for most of Monday, then Lapin began his cross-examination.

Lapin asserted to the woman that at no point prior to their sexual encounter did Johnson threaten her about what would happen to her if she did not have sex with him.

“I didn’t feel like I could say no,” the woman responded.

Lapin will continue his cross examination today.

Also during Monday’s testimony, Juris played for the jury an audio recording of the woman’s 911 call in June, when she noticed Johnson following her on state Route 512 in Pierce County. According to the Washington State Patrol, who arrested Johnson in that incident, a trooper found “a woman’s wig, some oversized sunglasses, a pair of black gloves and a roll of duct tape” in Johnson’s car that day.

Johnson is expected to testify in his own defense later during the jury trial.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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