MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The jury in the trial of Ibrahim Hamid, accused of sexually assaulting a female Uber passenger, deliberated about an hour Wednesday before deciding to quit for the day and resume deliberations today.
This followed testimony from the detective who investigated the case, the defense’s argument and closing statements in the second day of the trial before Monongalia County Circuit Judge Russell Clawges.
Hamid is charged with second-degree sexual assault stemming from an incident in the early mornings hours of April 28, 2017. The alleged victim testified Tuesday, during the first day of trial. On Wednesday, Hamid took the witness stand to tell his side.
Monongalia County Sheriff’s Detective J. Friend described the initial interview with the alleged victim, saying it was difficult and he had to slowly pull details from her, which is not unusual in such cases.
He told defence attorney Lance Rollo that the victim not remembering many parts of the night did not cause him concern.
Friend described the investigative process that eventually led him to Hamid. Video from downtown businesses turned up nothing, but that from the Suncrest Towne Centre McDonald’s did. A time-stamped McDonald’s receipt the alleged victim had helped narrow the time she and her Uber driver were there, helping Friend find the van she rode in.
A friend of Hamid’s identified him from a picture of Hamid taken from drive-through video footage.
Friend first met with Hamid on May 11 at the sheriff’s department. The jury was shown video of that interview in which Hamid denied knowing the victim, even after being shown a picture of her. At the end of the interview a DNA sample was taken from Hamid, which later matched a sample taken from the woman.
Crystal Workman, forensic analyst for the West Virginia State Police lab, took the stand and explained how she tested that DNA.
Hamid, a native of Sudan, testified in English, but an interpreter was available if needed.
He said he was in Morgantown to earn a master’s degree from WVU, but had not enrolled yet.
Hamid testified he drove for Uber several times a week and on the night in question he took several fares before calling it quits after 2:09 a.m. On the way home, he saw a woman standing outside the Mountainlair in the rain and offered her a ride.
He testified she got into the passenger seat and did not seem drunk. She told him she lived at West Run and on the way she asked to stop at McDonald’s, he said. The two made small talk and she told him where she was from and that she was a grad student at WVU. He said she asked similar questions of him. She told him she couldn’t pay him, but he said he was giving her the ride for free and trying to be nice.
At McDonald’s, she kissed him after telling him he was nice for doing this, Hamid said. They again kissed after arriving at West Run, he said. Hamid said they both moved to the back seat, removed their clothes and had sex. Hamid said there was no indication she wanted him to stop and that if she had said to stop, he would have.
The two dressed and he asked for her phone number. She gave it to him, he said. He then walked her to her door and kissed her goodnight, he said. He admitted that he lied during his interview with Friend, saying this was his first time dealing with law enforcement and he was afraid.
In her closing argument Monongalia County prosecutor Perri Jo DeChristopher told the jurors it might be hard to accept that sexual assault happens in their community, but that it can, does and did happen in this case.
Rollo told the jury the alleged victim didn’t give any facts during her testimony. He said it was strange the victim could remember some parts of the night, but not the alleged assault, which he called the most important part of the night.
He said the defendant is the only one who knew what happened and told the jury.