Trial begins for man accused of aggravated sodomy
by Jason Lowrey
Aug 30, 2012 | 2374 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ferlando Dorsey, who faces charges of aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and riot in a penal institution, was able to get one of those charges dismissed during his first day in court. Dorsey, who is representing himself in the trial, succeeded in having Judge D. Scott Smith dismiss the aggravated sexual battery charge after he cross-examined the victim.

Dorsey had made a statement on Monday saying he wished to represent himself throughout the trial. Smith, however, gave him a chance to change his mind Wednesday morning, and advised him of the advantages to using a lawyer who is experienced with the legal system. When Dorsey continued to say he would represent himself, Smith relented.

“In this situation, this time, I am going to allow you to represent yourself through this entire process, which is going to involve selecting a jury, making an opening statement [and] cross-examining witnesses called by the state. You can present your own evidence, your own witnesses. You have a right to testify yourself, if you wish,” he said.

However, Dorsey began the day deciding between a trial by jury or a non-jury trial. After giving three different answers before settling on a non-jury trial, Smith warned him about flip-flopping on any other decisions.

“I’m not going to put up with any silliness. If you start to become agitated, if you start to violate the decorum, which means the procedure in this courtroom, I’m going to put you in your place,” Smith said. “I don’t want to do that, but I am not going to have this courtroom used as some type of game. This is a serious charge and this is a serious place. If you want to represent yourself, you’re going to have to make your mind up about what you want to do and stick with it.”

The three charges stem from an incident in the early morning hours of Nov. 28, 2011, when Dorsey allegedly coerced the victim, through intimidation, into oral sex. Dorsey and the victim were cellmates in isolation cell 13 at the Bartow County Jail.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Dixon called Bartow County Sheriff’s Office deputies Brison Strickland and Tommy Stanley as witnesses. Both men work at the jail and were the first responders to the victim’s claims about sexual abuse. The two deputies took statements from Dorsey and the victim and searched the isolation cell.

Stanley said the victim’s story did not change when it came to the major details, while Dorsey had at least four different versions of what happened, including two different written statements. The victim said Dorsey used threatening body language and the implication of violence to get oral sex, while Dorsey said the victim was the aggressor who tried to pull his pants down a number of times that morning.

According to Stanley’s testimony, Dorsey was inconsistent on where the victim was located in the cell while he allegedly accosted Dorsey for sexual favors. When Dorsey pointed out both written statements could have happened, as the victim could have moved about the cell, Stanley was skeptical.

Dorsey concluded part of his questioning by asking Stanely if he believed he was guilty. Stanley said he could not be sure, because he was not in, or near, the cell at the time of the incident.

“But the totality of the circumstances, in my investigation with you being dishonest and deceitful, you’ve got something to hide,” Stanley said.

In the course of the jail investigation DNA evidence was collected, but not sent to a lab. Other evidence in the form two washcloths, two black ballpoint pens and a torn section of bedsheet were collected as well, but not processed.

When Dixon called the victim to the stand as a witness, he began by asking the victim what medications he was taking at the time of the incident. The victim said he was prescribed medications for incontinence, depression, cognition, seizures, muscle spasms and other issues. However, he said the medications did not inhibit his comprehension. Instead, he added, the medications improved it.

Dixon continued and had the victim recount what alleged abuse had occurred. The victim said Dorsey initiated a conversation by asking what he was in prison for and then moved on to discussing homosexual acts. According to the victim, it eventually led to the non-consensual oral sex.

During cross examination, Dorsey built his defense around the victim’s reported statements that he was bisexual. While the victim said he was “absolutely not” bisexual, three of Dorsey’s called witnesses said they had heard of, or experienced, the victim’s bisexuality first hand.

The second witness Dorsey called an inmate who said the victim had been his cellmate for one day on Dec. 31, 2011. The man said the victim repeatedly engaged him in conversations about homosexual acts and made a number of sexual advances toward him. He notified jail personnel and the victim was transferred out of the cell.

Halfway through Wednesday’s trial, after cross-examining the victim, Dorsey asked for the charges to be dropped. He cited the victim’s inconsistent testimony as to his sexuality and his statement that Dorsey never physically struck him. Instead, the victim said Dorsey allegedly pushed his head forward with his hand.

Smith only dismissed the aggravated sexual battery charge as the prosecution made the charge dependent on penetration occurring during the incident. The victim made it clear in his testimony that no penetration of any sort happened on Nov. 28, 2011.

The aggravated sodomy and riot in a penal institution charges still stand.

Dorsey’s case is scheduled to resume in Courtroom D in the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center at 9 a.m. today.