Testimony is expected to begin Wednesday morning in the case of a man accused of sexually assaulting two Dothan women in 2006. Mark Anthony Beecham, 25, is on trial this week for one of the alleged attacks and is expected to be tried in connection with the other later this year.
Opening arguments were delayed Monday as the prosecutor and defense attorney discussed ground rules for the trial with Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton. Specifically, they took up what could be allowed into evidence regarding the other charges against Beecham in Houston County in addition to his conviction on similar charges in Florida. Beecham is serving a prison sentence for the rape and kidnapping of a Tallahassee college student. He was arrested in early 2007, a few weeks after the second alleged Dothan victim reported she was sexually assaulted.
Meanwhile, a female juror was removed from the panel after she was overheard discussing Beecham with another person shortly after being selected to hear the case. She first denied talking to anyone about Beecham but later recanted---admitting she had discussed the defendant with a man she described as "an old friend." Upon further questioning, the woman also told the judge she once lied about her estranged husband raping her because she was mad with him. She said the charges were later dropped. Moulton, obviously annoyed, held the woman in contempt of court, fining her $250.00.
Assistant District Attorney Sam Clenney, during opening statements, told the 10-woman, 2-man jury they would hear evidence that Beecham broke into victim's home and sexually tortured for hours. He said it was later, by tracking a phone call, that Beecham was identified as the person sought who raped the woman.
While Brantley chose not address the jury Tuesday, he is expected to contend the sex between Beecham and the defendant was consensual and the two were trading drugs and money for sex.
Supernumerary Circuit Judge Jerry White will preside over testimony beginning Wednesday because Moulton has a prior obligation.