As Prosecutor Erin O’Brien began her closing argument in the case against an alleged child rapist and kidnapper, she walked directly toward the defendant, Christina Regusters, and said: "That woman is a devil."
The prosecution wants the jury to believe she has a big imagination and a split personality.
Regusters is charged with abducting a 5-year-old kindergarten student from Bryant Elementary School in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia last year. Then, prosecutors say she sexually assaulted the girl with such brutality that the child required a colostomy and several surgeries.
O’Brien alleges Regusters walked into the school on Jan. 14, 2013 wearing Muslim garb, signed the child out and headed toward Walton Avenue. Before arriving at the home, Regusters allegedly put the girl into a laundry bag and carried her up the steps.
During her captivity, the victim was kept under a bed, naked and blindfolded. She later told police she heard a large talking bird and was told, “If you scream, that bird will peck your eyes out."
O’Brien called Regusters a stage actor who’s been acting in the theater of her mind. The prosecution sought to debunk a number of characters throughout the trial -- Rasheedah the abductor, an unnamed male rapist and China the rescuer.
But they don't exist in real-life, only in Regusters' mind, according to prosecutors and police.
After 12 days of testimony, the prosecution and defense rested Tuesday afternoon. Regusters did not take the stand although her attorney suggested she might. The jury is now comprised of 12 jurors and two alternates because three members were dismissed over the course of the trial.
“Every single piece of evidence points to one person and one person alone -- Christina Regusters and no one else,” O’Brien said.
Defense attorney Fred Harrison, in a zoot suit, paced back-and-forth in front of the jury while giving his closing argument for the former daycare worker.
Harrison left the door open to the notion that the defendant could have been China, the good Samaritan that dropped off the injured victim underneath an Upper Darby, Pa. playground. Regusters' DNA was found on the T-shirt the child was wearing.
“Does the predator save the prey? I submit to you no,” Harrison said.
Regusters sat quietly twiddling a yellow pen and looking at the jury throughout the closing arguments.
O'Brien reminded the jury that searches for child pornography were done on Regusters’ laptop in the early morning on the day of the abduction.
The prosecution is relying on this type of circumstantial evidence as there are some hurdles in the case, such as the victim’s DNA not being found anywhere inside the rowhome where the alleged crimes took place.
Regusters' mother spoke out against the prosecution's case outside of court and said her daughter was not a diabolical psycho person.
Harrison proposed that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has not met its burden of proof and that the jury should not convict his client based on mere suspicion.
The courtroom was packed with standing room only. The victim’s mother sat quietly in the second row. O’Brien gave her eye contact from time to time as she referred to her as a typical working mom just trying to do right by her children.
"Justice in this case is finding her guilty, telling [the victim] what her mother has been telling her all along. There’s no more monster under that bed," she said.
Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.