Trial begins for man accused of raping 94-year-old

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Judge Ron Ware heard video testimony Wednesday from the alleged victim in the case of a man accused of raping a 94-year-old

woman in January 2012.

The man, Gabe McKeel, 50, chose to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial.

Because of the woman’s age, her testimony was videotaped in April 2012. The state and the defense agreed that she did not

have to take the stand again.

Police said the woman suffered a heart attack after the assault. The victim said she was at home in her bedroom with the lights

off and was about to watch “The Lawrence Welk Show” on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, when a man walked toward her TV.

She said she initially thought it was

her son and asked him how he had gotten in the house. “He didn’t say a

word. He just

came and started beating on me,” she said. He put his hand over

her mouth and “beat me as long as he wanted to beat me,” she

said.

The phone rang, she said, and she told the man it was her son, who called every Saturday night. She said she asked him to

let her answer the phone, but he “didn’t say a word — just went to going faster.”

She said he pulled down her underwear and touched her. She said he had called “three or four days” earlier and told her he

was going to do that. She said she responded that she was going to call the police if he did so.

She said she heard his truck leave but

was afraid to call 911 because she thought there might be someone else

in the house.

She then went around and turned all the lights on, she said. “I

was so scared in that house, I didn’t know what to do,” she

said.

She testified that she knew McKeel, but

not by name. She said she had written his name down in her phone book

as “New Man,”

because he was a new man in town. She said he had worked on her

screen door with another man and that she was going to have

him rake leaves at the cemetery.

Tom Threet, a detective with the DeQuincy Police Department, said the victim picked McKeel out of a photo lineup a month after

the incident. He said the man’s number showed up on the victim’s caller ID at 7:07 p.m. that night.

He said McKeel’s hat was found at her residence. He said McKeel’s clothes, found in his bathroom, were wet with red stains

on them.

When McKeel’s wife went to the police station to give a statement, she had a keyboard piano that the victim said had been

taken from her residence, Threet said.

The alleged victim’s nephew testified that he went to check on her after receiving a call that all the lights were on in her

house. He said that when she came to the door, she said in a low voice, “He beat me.”

He said he could barely recognize her because the right side of her face was swollen. He said her “lip was busted” and she

could barely talk.

In opening statements, prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth said the victim was an independent woman who helped keep up a cemetery,

but was “way too trusting.”

Killingsworth said the victim’s blood was on McKeel’s ring.