Prosecutors say a Colorado Springs man used a cell phone recorder to document the rape and beating of a 26-year-old woman — capturing her every whimper as he pistol-whipped her, burned her with a cigarette and subjected her to mock executions.
Ryan Michael Cantor allegedly made the recording to keep his victim — then a live-in girlfriend — “under his control,” prosecutor Jennifer Darby told a jury as Cantor’s rape trial opened in Colorado Springs.
“This is a case about domination, intimidation and humiliation,” Darby charged in her opening statement, as photos of the victim’s injuries were displayed on a large screen behind her. “She would say anything and do anything to make it stop.”
Cantor, 28, is accused of forcing the woman to perform oral sex on him while holding her captive in his car on a terrifying drive through Colorado Springs in August 2010. He is charged with kidnapping, first-degree assault and rape.
The trial is expected to last up to two weeks. If convicted, Cantor could receive the equivalent of a life sentence.
His attorney, Philip Dubois, countered that investigators have only the victim’s word that Cantor is the man on the recording. He drew the jury’s attention to her criminal past, drug use and changing stories to Colorado Springs police, who Dubois said were initially told that a man named “Matthew” was the culprit.
The woman, whose name is being withheld by The Gazette, briefly took the stand Wednesday but broke down in tears as prosecutor Sharon Flaherty asked her to recall when her budding relationship with Cantor grew abusive.
“Can we get a break for a second?” she asked, before rising and walking out of the courtroom, where she could be heard sobbing in a hallway.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Larry E. Schwartz announced 20 minutes later the victim was unable to regain her composure. The judge adjourned court early and said her testimony would continue Thursday.
According to her partial account, she began dating Cantor in early 2010 while her husband was jailed in Colorado Springs. The pair moved in together at a Briargate apartment complex before the relationship grew violent.
The woman halted her testimony before describing the assault.
The defendant stared at her from the defense table as she identified him in court, not once averting his gaze.
Prosecutors say she was held at gunpoint in the passenger seat of Cantor’s Infinity for two hours as he drove about Colorado Springs — at one point stopping to order himself a cherry-lime drink and mozzarella sticks from a drive-through restaurant.
In a stomach-churning recording, portions of which were played during opening statements, her assailant can be heard repeatedly striking her with a gun and taunting her with a profane version of “eeny meeny miny moe,” sung in a dark, low voice.
His repeated death threats were punctuated with a series of metallic “clicks” — what prosecutors say is an unloaded pistol being dry-fired at point-blank range.
Photographs displayed in court showed deep bruises on the woman’s face and arms, and cigarette burns behind her ear and on her arm — corresponding “with every hit and every smack you hear on that recording,” Darby said.
Dubois told the jury the victim is a methamphetamine user with a history of arrests, including theft, aggravated motor vehicle theft and drug possession. He suggested she changed her story and implicated Cantor in exchange for preferential treatment by the courts and her probation officer.
Prosecutors say the woman initially lied out of fear and refused offers of help from friends, police officers and others.
She turned over the recording — which was made using her cellular phone — only after accepting their help, prosecutors said.
Her testimony is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
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