A Vermont couple accused of horrific sex assaults on a young girl took the witness stand Thursday in their own defense. This was day four of the couple's re-trial.
This was the chance for the husband and wife to counter claims that they routinely had sex with a young girl in a Burlington apartment in 2005 and 2006. Stacey Parnitzke and Shane Casey said it never happened-- not even once.
"I find it revolting," Stacey Parnitzke said.
Parnitzke told the court she's sickened by what she calls bogus allegations against her. Prosecutors say she and her husband, Shane Casey, used a young child as their sex slave. Parnitzke was in charge of caring for the girl, but the couple allegedly exposed her to a parade of male abusers, repeatedly telling the elementary schooler to imitate what she saw in pornographic movies.
"Why would I do that?" Parnitzke asked.
The admitted severe alcoholic testified that the stories of routine victimization are simply untrue. But at times she struggled to answer questions from her own defense attorney.
"You know what? I'm so sorry," she said. "I'm really nervous because this is the rest of my life."
Describing the alleged victim, Parnitzke's co-defendant Shane Casey said, "I mean -- I met her a handful of times."
Casey said despite more than 20 years of battling cocaine addiction he's always lived to help, not harm, people as a human services worker. But on cross-examination, Casey was short-tempered, barking back answers and even going so far as tell the deputy state's attorney several times how to do her job.
"Read the script!" Casey snapped at prosector Susan Hardin, suggesting what she wanted to know has already been answered in court.
There were several exchanges like that, some lasting a lot longer. Some of the jurors appeared to be squirming uncomfortably. At one point, Judge Michael Kupersmith told Shane Casey it's not his job to ask questions of Susan Hardin.
The defense still plans to call a doctor who will testify that if sexual assault really took place, there would be significant physical trauma to the alleged victim. A lack of that evidence made the prosecution's case hard to prove in the first trial last year, which ended in a hung jury.
The defense witnesses will continue Friday and early Monday before closing arguments.
In the couple's first trial, the jury worked for three days before failing to reach a unanimous verdict.
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