By Linda Cicoira
Previous testimony from a rape victim could have been used Monday during a trial since she was unavailable to appear in court, according to Judge W. Revell Lewis III, of Northampton Circuit Court.
However, the case was eventually continued for 27-year-old Leeaudre Diontay Tazewell, of Exmore. A new trial date was not set. The crime allegedly occurred Aug. 9, 2019. Tazewell has been in jail since Aug. 10. A bond hearing was set for July 20.
“Typically, a defendant has a right to confront and cross examine his accuser,” the judge said. However, there is a law that when the victim is unavailable, the transcript of a previous hearing could be included in evidence since the victim’s attorney had the opportunity to cross examine her at that time.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Beverly Leatherbury requested the transcript be used because she was up against speedy trial restrictions. The victim was initially served with a subpoena for a May 30 proceeding, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Leatherbury’s office, the Exmore Town Police, and a victim’s advocate had been unable to talk to the victim since the preliminary hearing, held on Oct. 31.
The victim’s name is being withheld because of the nature of the case. Leatherbury said she is suspected of having mental illness. When the officers attempted to speak to her, she would look out the window of the motel where she was staying, but not answer the door. “She was last seen sleeping outside Corner Mart, in Temperanceville,” Leatherbury told judge.
Tazewell was initially charged with two counts of rape. One charge was dismissed during the preliminary hearing. Several women were in court Monday to support Tazewell. All were wearing masks but blew him kisses as he was escorted back to jail.
Defense lawyer Brandon Matthews, of Suffolk, made a motion to continue the case because “we were planning on using cross examination as a major part of the defense.” He asked for the bond hearing and for his client to be put on house arrest. Lewis said if bond was granted, the cost of GPS monitoring would be the responsibility of the defendant.