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November 1, 2013

Jury hears opening statements in trooper attempted-rape case

PLATTSBURGH — Opening statements Thursday in the attempted-rape trial of Trevor J. Donah told the story of an encounter between the state trooper and his ex-girlfriend in their Plattsburgh apartment in September 2008.

While the prosecution suggests Donah was an abusive boyfriend who sometimes caused his girlfriend to live in fear of him, the defense asserts his only wrongdoing was cheating on the woman.

There is no physical evidence to support the charges of first-degree attempted rape, second-degree assault and first-degree unlawful imprisonment, the defense emphasized.

Wearing a suit and tie, Donah sat expressionless between his defense attorney, Brian Barrett, and co-counsel, Lorraine White.

In her opening statement, Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Crawford outlined the upcoming testimony of Donah’s ex-girlfriend, describing a night of what she says was a heated physical fight between Donah and his ex-girlfriend.

‘DISCOVERED INFIDELITY’

Crawford said Donah’s ex had read emails on his laptop computer that led her to believe he was was being unfaithful to her.

When Donah returned from work that day, his girlfriend confronted him about his infidelity, Crawford told the jury, composed of seven men and six women.

An argument ensued, and Donah pushed her backward and tossed his laptop on the couch, Crawford said.

“He’s screaming at her, and he’s angry,” she said.

Crawford said the altercation escalated from there, with Donah pushing his ex-girlfriend down the hall and into the bedroom, where he threw her up against a wall.

She then fell onto the bed, she said.

‘RISK OF DEATH’

“Before she can figure out what’s going on, the defendant is strangling her,” Crawford said. “Her thought process quickly switches (from fear) to, ‘This is the night I’m going to die.”

Donah strangled his ex-girlfriend to the point where she couldn’t breathe, Crawford said.

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