SCHENECTADY — An officer's childhood memory of playing in Summit Towers helped stop a rape in progress last December, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Called to the apartment building to investigate a fight between a man and a woman, two officers made their way to the floor where the dispute was reported early on Dec. 26, but they initially found nothing. Then one of the officers remembered the floor has a trash room, prosecutor John Carson told a jury in opening statements of a rape trial.
In the trash room, the officers saw a man on top of a woman. The woman locked eyes with one of the officers, Carson told the jury, and mouthed, "Help me."
The officers subdued the man, Ismael Walker, 42, of Albany, and took him into custody. He is now standing trial in Schenectady County Court on burglary, rape and other charges.
If convicted on all charges, Walker could be sentenced to upward of 100 years in state prison.
Attorneys on both sides offered their opening statements in the case Tuesday morning.
Carson outlined allegations of three separate forced sex acts — two inside the woman's apartment and one in the trash room. Between the attacks, the woman used a ruse of having to use the bathroom to escape her apartment and get into the hallway to yell for help.
A man in a neighboring apartment happened to be up at that hour, heard her cries and called police, leading to the officers' discovery.
"(The woman) alone won't have to tell the story of that night," Carson told the jury. "There will be many other witnesses and pieces of evidence."
Among the evidence, Carson said, is Walker's DNA found on the woman and in her apartment, as well as video evidence from the hallway after her escape, showing Walker choking her. She suffered cuts and bruises. Police also documented scrapes on Walker.
Walker is represented by attorney Brian Mercy. He argued that the two had consensual sex that morning and that the evidence and testimony will lead the jury to a not-guilty verdict.
"A very different story will emerge," Mercy told the jury.
The timeline of events, as laid out by prosecutors, starts early that morning as the woman, Walker and others were drinking on the first floor of the towers, Carson said.
When she went up to her room, Walker got on the elevator with her, according to the prosecution. They reached her apartment, and he pushed her inside, according to Tuesday's opening statements.
He raped her and then forced her to perform oral sex on him, Carson said. When she escaped, he chased after her, choked her near the elevator, and they ended up in the trash room, according to the prosecution.
The neighbor's call resulted in police officers Komieko and Takeo Mosher being dispatched to the towers to investigate. Both officers later received exemplary service citations from the department for their actions that morning.
They arrived within two minutes, but the building's security measures held them at bay for another 10, Carson said. The officers didn't have access to a key box designed to allow police in, so they rang multiple residents to get inside. City police did not have information Tuesday on whether the access issue has since been resolved. A building spokesman could not be reached.
Walker is standing trial on two separate counts of first-degree rape, one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree burglary and second-degree assault. He also faces two counts of second-degree strangulation and one count of unlawful imprisonment.
Judge Kathleen Hogan is presiding.