Another witness granted immunity

STEUBENVILLE – A second witness in the Steubenville rape case was compelled to testify today as the Steubenville rape trial continued at the Jefferson County Justice Center.

Evan Westlake, 18, a Steubenville High School student, asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege concerning testifying and possibly incriminating himself when he was called to testify.

Westlake agreed to testify after visiting Judge Thomas Lipps issued blanket immunity to Westlake against any future criminal proceedings in Ohio in regard to his participation in the incident, which allegedly happened the night of Aug. 11-12.

Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville face rape charges in connection with the incident, which allegedly involved a 16-year-old Weirton girl. Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing test message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

While being questioned by prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter, Westlake testified that he saw Richmond digitally penetrating the alleged victim in a sexual manner. Westlake said he saw the incident in the basement of Mark Cole’s Wintersville home. Westlake also testified that he saw Mays engaging in sexual conduct.

When asked why he did not stop what he saw going on, Westlake said, “It wasn’t violent, and I didn’t know exactly what rape was. I thought it was more forceful or violent.”

After seeing the alleged act, Westlake testified that he left the Cole residence and went to the Howarth residence on Westwood Drive in Steubenville, where he ended up videotaping a conversation about the incident in which Michael Nodianos appeared. Westlake said he later uploaded that now-infamous video to YouTube.

Earlier Friday, Cole had initially claimed his Fifth Amendment privilege when he was called to the stand. He testified after receiving a similar immunity deal from Lipps.

The defense has not yet had an opportunity question Westlake.

The trial is expected to continue through Saturday, and could last until Sunday.