Eric Lafleur says he won’t take stand to defend himself

KPLC 7News at Six - VOD - clipped version

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -In a formal conversation with the judge, in open court, Eric Lafleur said he will not testify in his own defense and that he understands, it’s his decision alone. Judge Robert Wyatt told Lafleur he can change his mind later. The defendant is not required to testify or even put on a defense. It’s solely the burden of the State to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defense put on two witnesses including Lafleur's brother Derrick Vezia. He testified he saw Eric and one of the accusers hugging and kissing at their mother's home. Vezia says he loves his brother and wants him to be free, but would not lie for him.

Lafleur is charged with three counts of rape, carjacking and other charges stemming from a three-week period in 2016 when prosecutors say he attacked five women.

The state rested its case, after giving jurors the chance to examine evidence such as various photos. And the state played 911 calls made by four accusers on the line, crying and asking for police.

Earlier, sexual assault nurses who examined women who say they were raped were on the stand, answering questions.

All testified extensively that physical trauma is often not evident on adult women who have been raped. Nurses testified that's because the female anatomy heals quickly and other reasons.

Still, the defense went over details of sexual assault exams of accusers, bringing out the absence of physical trauma--likely to suggest there was no rape or that sexual contact was consensual.

When the trial resumes, the defense is expected to call two more witnesses. Assuming Lafleur doesn’t decide to testify, the next order of trial is for the State to have an opportunity for rebuttal. Then there are closing arguments, jury instructions and then the case is turned over to the jury to deliberate.

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