Regusters Kidnapping, Rape Trial Is Like Reality TV

A circus, reality TV and a boxing ring.

The Christina Regusters trial taking place inside Courtroom 1101 at Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center may be defined as such by spectators who religiously show up each day. 

"Is she guilty or not guilty -- I just can't figure it out. I became obsessed with the case," said Breanna Christopher. 


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Each day, the courtroom is packed with about 50 spectators and at least 5 members of the media sitting shoulder to shoulder in four rows that are reminiscent of church pews. 

The trial of the 21-year-old alleged rapist and kidnapper has gained a loyal following. Day after day, the same faces corral in the hallway and discuss the latest details in the case during trial breaks.

"I am waiting for the smoking gun,” said Tyeisha Robinson. “Has the prosecution proved she did it? Absolutely not. I think she is going to walk. There may be some good old fashioned street justice.”

Regusters is accused of abducting a 5-year-old child from her kindergarten class at Bryant Elementary School in West Philly, sneaking her home in a laundry bag, hiding her naked and blindfolded underneath a bed and sexually assaulting her with a sharp object, repeatedly.

The victim was then taken to a nearby park with only a T-shirt on. Her 19-hour ordeal ended when she was found that next morning by a passerby.

The emotional highs and lows in the case have run the gamut -- a verbal outburst by the defendant directed at a witness, a cussing parrot named Marty and the heinous evidence photos of the child victim’s injuries after the rape.

A sign is taped to the courtroom door that says in all caps that the courtroom is full.

While making their case to the jury, prosecutor Erin O’Brien and defense attorney Fred Harrison Jr. have exchanged jabs with witnesses over the course of the trial.

Harrison called Regusters to the stand yesterday as part of a defense motion to suppress a statement Regusters gave to Philadelphia Police on Feb. 14, 2013. Harrison said Regusters was not read her Miranda Rights by police. The prosecution agreed her Miranda Rights were not read, but contested the motion suggesting the statement was still made voluntarily.

O'Brien questioned Regusters during her testimony on the motion. She asked Regusters if she was a liar. Regusters said she told the truth about being abused in her statement, but left the door open that she had not told the truth in other areas. 

The surprise move to call Regusters to the stand as the jury was in recess was one that courtroom watchers say they weren’t expecting.

Later in the afternoon, Regusters raised her voice during her cousin Katrina Regusters' testimony, calling her daughter a liar. 

Judge Jeffrey Minehart shared his ruling on the motion at the end of trial proceedings today. His ruling was in favor of the defense -- that the statement is not admissible during trial except on cross examination should the defendant take the stand in her own defense.

Robinson sat next to and befriended fellow Philadelphian Harvey Johnson during Thursday’s lunch break. The two began chatting about the case and sharing observations while a court officer walked around handing out not popcorn, but hard candy to the observers.

Johnson, who’s retired and said curiosity is what brought him to court, said Harrison asks some of the toughest questions.

Harrison drilled an 11-year-old cousin of Regusters who claimed she was inappropriately touched by the defendant. She came forward with the allegations two weeks ago, but claim the touching occurred when she was 8.

As the lunch break ends, the court officer reminds spectators to turn their cell phones off. Whispers in the courtroom continue from fashion wear to the defendant's guilt. 

“I see her (Regusters) admitting she did it. She’s going to snap like a twig,” said a daily trial attendee who wished to remain anonymous.

“There’s been enough speculation to point a finger,” he said while walking back into the courtroom.

Robinson said it's all reality TV.

Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.

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