PLATTSBURGH — An ex-girlfriend of Trevor Donah says he strangled her after she told him she was going to contact a woman with whom she thought he was becoming too intimate.
On the stand in Clinton County Court on Friday, the woman said he had become increasingly aggressive and exhibited what she considered bizarre behavior.
Questioned by Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Crawford, the woman said she and Donah met in 2007, when he was working as a security guard at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh.
Donah, faced with attempted rape and other charges in this case, sat between his attorneys, listening carefully to his ex-girlfriend testify.
They began what started out as a happy relationship in March of that year, she said, and moved into an apartment on U.S. Oval in the City of Plattsburgh.
Donah left for the Police Academy in August 2007, graduating in February of 2008, she said.
‘DESCRIBED PAST LIVES’
The woman began to cry as she described some incidents of the escalating aggression she said Donah exhibited, including demonstrations of defensive tactics she said he learned at the New York State Police Academy.
He would place his finger on a portion of her jaw near her ear, causing her pain, she said.
“Every time, it would be a sharp shoot of pain, and it wouldn’t go away until he let go.”
It was around that time that the two began to grow apart, Donah’s ex told the jury.
“He started doing more bizarre things,” which included searching the Internet to find a place where a “past life regression” could be performed on him, she said.
He traveled to New York City for the experience, she said.
“He explained to me these past lives he had had.”
Another time, she testified, she was taking a bath, her eyes closed, when Donah entered the bathroom and urinated on her face.
She said Donah also told her that he could levitate, that he was not well liked by her family and did not wish to spend time with them.
Donah’s defense attorney, Brian Barrett, said the woman had testified earlier about Donah trying to isolate her from her parents.
Barrett objected numerous times during her testimony, questioning the relevance of Crawford’s questions and whether she was leading the witness.
Clinton County Judge Patrick McGill allowed much of the testimony.
Donah’s ex-girlfriend said she asked to go along when he planned another past-life-regression experience, since the person who conducted the procedure was a woman.
Back in Plattsburgh, she said, she found email conversations between the other woman and Donah, adding that they were “getting more intimate.”
When she asked Donah about it, he was “immediately irate,” she said.
He grabbed her shoulders and pushed her against a wall in the living room of their apartment, she said, but she didn’t resist.
“It wasn’t worth fighting with him.”
Later, when she told him she wanted to move out, he was “apologetic,” she said.
“He was on his knees, bent over, crying” and trying to persuade her not to leave, the woman said.
A few days later, Donah’s ex-girlfriend said, she told him she was going to call the woman in New York City and explain that she and Donah were in a relationship.
Grabbing her arms, Donah walked her back into a wall in their living room, she testified, calling her a “spoiled little brat.
“His teeth were gritted, and he was talking through his teeth.”
Then Donah walked her down that hall and into the bedroom, where he threw her up against the back wall, the woman said, adding that she then fell onto the bed.
“I was just stunned,” she said. “As soon as I got my wits about me, he was on top of me.”
Donah flipped her from her side onto her stomach, she said, and he sat on top of her so she could not move.
‘DIFFICULT TO BREATHE’
“He put both hands around my neck and started squeezing,” the woman told the jury. “He said, ‘You need to control yourself.’”
She said it was becoming difficult to breathe, and she could feel blood rushing to her face.
Donah strangled her for between 15 and 30 seconds, she said.
“I didn’t know if he was ever going to let go,” the woman said, crying, “whether I was going to live that night or not.”
When she was able to speak, she told Donah she was going to call the police.
He told her “they were all his friends; it was his word against mine,” she said.
At this point, the woman lay on her back, with Donah face-down on her.
“He pushed his (penis) into my leg, and said, ‘Is this what you want?’” she said. “I didn’t say anything back to him.”
“He continued to sit on me until I agreed not to call the police.”
After the two argued for a few more moments, Donah got up and left the apartment, she said.
‘MARKS ON NECK’
The next morning, the ex-girlfriend testified, she noticed bruises and redness on her arms and neck and a scratch or bruise on her inner thigh.
She told one of her coworkers about the bruises, she said.
The Franklin County District Attorney’s Office flew the woman to Plattsburgh from San Francisco so she could testify.
“It was covered up with makeup and it appeared to be a bruise,” she said on the stand Friday.
Barrett emphasized that in her November 2012 statement to police, she said she had seen “something” on her coworker’s neck four or five years earlier, although she was unable to pinpoint a date when Barrett asked.
Donah’s ex-girlfriend testified that she texted him pictures of the bruises that she had taken with her cellphone and that he was “tearful” and “apologetic” about them.
About a week after, she said, Donah moved out.
“He kept his key because he said it was still his apartment,” she said, and he continued to pay half of the rent each month.
The woman said that when State Police asked her in November 2012 to talk to them about Donah, she at first didn’t want to but eventually did after she had learned other women had told police they had been abused by him.
She said she didn’t mention the sexual abuse at first because they didn’t ask about it specifically.
Donah’s ex said she turned her cellphone over to police but said Friday that she had deleted the pictures of the bruises when she started dating her future husband in the spring of 2009.
A forensic search of her phone failed to retrieve the images.
In cross-examination, Barrett brought up a discrepancy between the woman’s testimony in grand jury, when she said the attack lasted 20 minutes, and on Friday, when she told the court it was 30 minutes.
Crawford’s objection was sustained, as were others that she made to Barrett’s questions.
‘LATER SEXUAL CONTACT’
Barrett asked the woman if she and Donah had been intimate after the night when she said he strangled her, and she confirmed that they had, although she said she wasn’t sure whether they had sex again in late 2008 or early 2009.
“Is there any reason why your memory would be impaired here today?” Barrett asked at one point.
He asked her if she had begun dating another man immediately after Donah had moved out.
McGill did not allow the question after Crawford objected.
‘KNEW OTHER TROOPERS’
Upon Barrett’s questioning, the woman confirmed that she knew several state troopers and that one had lived in the same building where she and Donah had their apartment.
Barrett said the woman could have gone to the troopers, her family or Plattsburgh City Police to report the assault.
She agreed but said, crying, that she didn’t because she didn’t want her family to think she was weak.
The woman said that none of her family members were in the courtroom.
“We’re close, but we don’t talk about our feelings and emotional stuff,” she said.
The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
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