Shawn Wuertley Trial: Day 1

By: Mark Vaughn Email
By: Mark Vaughn Email

She is the key witness in the sexual battery and attempted murder trial of 30-year-old Shawn Wuertley.

Between the photographic evidence and the young woman's testimony, jurors got a vivid picture of what happened that night.

It didn't take prosecutor Rob Sale long Tuesday morning to lie out the case he planned to present against 30-year-old Shawn Wuertley.

Wuertley was working as a security guard at the Sand Piper Beacon hotel on the night of March 17th, 2008...The same night an 18-year-old University of Alabama student was raped and tossed over a 6th floor balcony.

The state says Wuertley did it.

Assistant State Attorney Rob Sale said, "She is here today only by the grace of god, and the fact that she hit two overhangs on the way down and landed on a stairway platform that was above the ground. The defendant threw her off that balcony."

But Wuertley's attorney, Jim Husbands, says the woman had been drinking all day, had consensual sex with Wuertley, and that the fall was simply an accident that happened when Wuertley was not present.

Husbands said, "People that come down here and really have a good time do some things that often they don't remember that they've done. I think that's the situation here. They do some things that they regret and want to point the blame in other directions."

Then Sale began calling witnesses who could Wuertley at the scene where the young woman went over the balcony rail.

State Witness Shawn Megie said, "Right then before she got to the ground there was a security guard that came rushing down." Sale asked, "Do you see that security guard in the courtroom today?... Megie replied, "Yes sir." Can you point him out and tells us what color shirt he's wearing, " asked Sale

"Black jacket...And what color shirt?...Purple, light purple," said Megie, that's the clothing Wuertley wore during court.

But the most compelling testimony came from the victim herself, who described what happened, and identified Wuertley as her attacker.

The victim gave a vivid picture of what happened to her that night, "He raped me, and then he started choking me and twisting my neck and banged my head against the floor. He was just choking me...I was just thinking about my family and that i was going to die and it's not fair."

During cross examination Husbands questioned the young woman about her memory of particular events, hoping to cast doubts about her recollection of the events.

The state will continue to call witnesses Friday morning, with the jury likely to get the case sometime late Friday.

If convicted on all charges, Wuertley could spend the rest of his life in prison.


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