Trial is underway for a Swanton man accused of beating a Burlington woman and trying to force her into his pickup. Police arrested Harold Porter two years ago. He has a lengthy criminal record which includes sex crimes. In 2001 he tried to nab another woman in Swanton in broad daylight. This time, police say they caught up with Porter thanks to a tip from a car dealer who recognized his truck on the news.
"I felt terrorized. And I was panicked. Physically I felt myself losing consciousness," the victim testified.
The woman-- whose identity WCAX News is protecting-- says Harold Porter tried to kidnap her off a Burlington street in September 2009. She told a jury Wednesday he beat her and when she cried out for help, his violence escalated.
"He shoved his finger all the way down my throat," she said. "I bit down as hard as I could so that I could keep screaming."
She got away that night, but now she wants her attacker to pay for his crimes.
The defense says she's got the wrong man.
"Some of the direct evidence makes it clear that Mr. Porter could not have been the person who did this," defense lawyer Robert Sussman said.
The victim told police her attacker was a heavyset, bald, white man with no obvious facial hair and about her height. A much slimmer, clean-shaven Porter sat in the courtroom Wednesday-- a stark comparison to his 2009 mug shot. But one thing that doesn't change is height.
"The person who committed this act on September 9, 2009, was almost a half a foot taller than Harold Porter," Sussman said.
The state says that even though no one got a good look at the attacker, eyewitnesses and CCTA surveillance footage puts Porter's truck at the scene. Then there's the evidence police collected from his hands.
"He puts out his hands and on his right index finger and the base of the finger is an injury," Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney Susan Hardin said.
The prosecution plans to call a dentist who will testify that Porter's injury came from a bite, which fits with the victim's self-defense story. But Porter's lawyer plans to poke holes in the police investigation.
"They waited five days before they collected her fingernail clippings," Sussman said.
The defense isn't saying just yet whether Harold Porter will take the stand. We're told if he does it will be a last-minute decision. The trial is slated to take two weeks.
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