LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A victim testified Monday in an aggravated kidnapping trial that she was forced into a trunk and beaten to unconsciousness.
Christopher Guffey is accused in connection with the June kidnapping of a woman. He is an alleged member of a notorious prison gang.
In Monday afternoon testimony, the victim testified that when she went to her friend's house, she did not have any assistance getting into the car. She says she doesn't recall being taken by the arm and forced to get into the vehicle either. She says she was trying to calm Steven Wallace, the alleged leader of the gang, down over the phone, but he wasn't making any sense.
Later, they stopped and Guffey was on the phone with Wallace and said "you want her in the trunk?" The alleged victim claims Guffey said, "You got 30 seconds to get in the trunk or else I'll put you there." She says Guffey closed the trunk and as they were driving she was looking through the keyhole of the trunk.
She said, "It was so hot and I was just trying to breathe." They stopped at a gas station on Highway 69 in Central when they stopped the car and Wallace was there in another car with more people. Wallace pulled her out of the car and put her into a different car with him. Wallace struck her several times with his fist as they drove to a cemetery. They beat her several times until she lost consciousness.
She tearfully recounted the event from the stand explaining, "I would try to get back up. I think I stayed down a couple times."
Later they stopped at a trailer to get water, but were forced to leave when the resident came to the door and had a gun. The group eventually went to house of the parents of Rachel Tutt, who is also charged in the kidnapping, and Wallace told the victim to clean up. She claims she kept trying to reason with Wallace, telling him, "You're my heart, you know." She says Wallace told her, "His new girlfriend was going to have to kill me." They ended up going back to Tutt's parent's house where Tutt hugged the victim.
"He stood there and watched it," Rhonda Sanangelo, Guffey's mother, said in an interview during recess. "He didn't stop it and he should've stopped it."
But, Sanangelo said he did not do what the state charges him with.
"I'm here to support him and to let him know I love him," Sanangelo said.
Court testimony has revealed that a victim of at 2005 shooting/rape is a key part of the June 2009 kidnapping case.
According to testimony, the defendant, Christopher Guffey, came to Jennifer Holliday's home, looking for the victim.
Robin Franklin, the mother of Ana Franklin, who was murdered in the 2005 case, testified Monday morning, saying she knows the victim and the group charged in the kidnapping claims the victim called upset and asked the witness if she could come pick her up because she needed to get away from Wallace. Franklin said when the victim got in her car, she was crying really hard. On the car ride, the victim's phone rang and Franklin said she heard Guffey scream, "You better get back up [here] or somebody is going to get hurt."
Robin Franklin also testified that Guffey was at Holiday's house and thought he was on meth. She said Guffey yanked the victim out of the car by her hair and called Stephen Wallace, also charged in the kidnapping, to let him know he had the victim. Robin Franklin then said he put the victim in the car and that is when Holiday went to the sheriff's office to report the kidnapping.
Robin Franklin is currently serving in state jail for a theft and drug charge probation revocation.
Holliday also took the stand Monday, explaining how Guffey came to her house looking for the kidnapping victim.
Eric Parnell pleaded guilty in 2006 to capital murder and aggravated sexual assault charges. According to a previous KTRE report, Parnell killed Ana Franklin and shot Holliday in the arm, before taking her to his house and raping her. Holliday managed to call the sheriff's office and deputies were able to rescue Holiday.
In opening arguments of Monday's aggravated kidnapping trial, the defense stressed that the jury would have to prove that the defendant had a role in the kidnapping of a woman.
The Angelina County Sheriff's Office has beefed up security for the case, with about four extra deputies patrolling the outside of the courthouse before the trial began Monday, and two more inside the courthouse, just outside the courtroom. About 30 spectators are in attendance.
KTRE has chosen not to name the victim in the case as a way to protect her identity.
In opening arguments Monday, prosecuting attorney Art Bauereiss told jurors Guffey was a part of a group that put the victim in the trunk of a car and drove her to a location where they beat her up, and put her back in the trunk. Bauereiss said Guffey rode in one of the two cars used in the kidnapping, and that the whole group was high on meth.
Guffey's attorney, Al Charanza, said Guffey never inflicted pain to the victim and that he even let her talk to a sheriff's deputy on the phone. He reminded the jury that Guffey was on trial for aggravated kidnapping, and he did not feel his client was guilty of that charge.
Two other female witnesses took the stand Monday. One was an ex-girlfriend of Wallace. She testified that the group had been getting high on meth that day. The other was a friend of the victim, who testified that she gave the victim a ride to meet up with the group.
Coming back from recess, Guffey expressed satisfaction with a photographer capturing him on camera.
"KTRE took my picture!" he said.