Christina Regusters, accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl, stood before Judge Jeffrey Minehart this morning and decline to take the stand on day 12 of her criminal trial.
"I'm not going to testify," said Regusters.
It was an about-face for defense attorney Fred Harrison Jr. who said before the trial that Regusters would take the stand.
Regusters is charged with abducting a kindergarten student from Bryant Elementary School in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of Philadelphia, and sexually assaulting her with such brutality that the child has required a series of reconstructive surgeries.
Regusters might not have taken the stand but best friend Ivy Davis and another friend Chale Reid did testify. Davis said Regusters is law-abiding and peaceful while Reid said that she and Regusters spoke over the phone on the night that the girl was missing -- a conversation Reid called tearful.
The defense then rested around 11:30 a.m. and Harrison went into his final argument. The prosecution followed with their closing arguments and the jury was sent home for the day.
As the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began its quest for justice for the child who was held captive for 19 hours during the January 2013 assault, prosecutor Christine O’Brien described the events the victim experienced inside 6423 Walton Avenue as a “nightmare.”
The victim, now 7, faced her alleged rapist and took the stand during the trial.
O’Brien alleges Regusters walked into Bryant Elementary 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 child 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."
The state alleges Regusters anally and vaginally penetrated the kindergartner with an unknown object. The child described it as a toothpick because it felt sharp.
O’Brien told jurors that Regusters tried to confuse the "terrified" victim into believing that she'd been attacked by a man.
After repeated assaults, the child was dropped off before daybreak at an Upper Darby park and placed underneath a sliding board wearing only a t-shirt. O’Brien told jurors they will be shown surveillance video of Regusters lifting the child over a wall outside the home, after the attacks.
A passerby heard the child’s whimpers and screams at the park and called police.
“I’m scared,” O’Brien said the tiny voice could be heard saying on the 911 tapes.
Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.