Witness details contact

STEUBENVILLE – Wintersville resident Mark Cole told Visiting Judge Thomas Lipps he witnessed 17-year-old Trent Mays digitally penetrating an underage girl as testimony continued this morning in Day 3 of the Steubenville rape trial.

Mays and 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond have been charged with raping a 16-year-old Weirton girl during a series of end-of-summer parties Aug. 11-12. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material for allegedly having and sending a picture of the girl from his cell phone.

Cole testified the alleged contact took place in a vehicle as they traveled from one party to another. He admitted to recording the incident on his iPhone, but said he deleted it the next morning. When asked why, he said, “It was one of those moments when you realize you did something wrong and stupid that night, so I deleted it.”

The youth also testified about a series of text messages he sent to and received from Mays and Richmond in the hours and days after the incident allegedly took place, and admitted to consuming between eight and 10 beers that evening. He also testified that he refused to send Mays and others the video that he’d recorded.

He also testified that at one point, he saw the alleged victim and Mays wrapped in a blanket. Earlier, investigators had said they found Mays’ semen as well as the girls’ DNA on a blanket recovered at the scene and sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for testing.

Cole said he also saw Richmond lying behind the girl and said he believed Richmond was touching her with his hand.

Cole had told the state’s attorney that the girl was being very loud and that he believed it was because she was intoxicated. But under cross-examination, Cole told Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, that all of the partygoers were being loud and he couldn’t say with certainty whether the victim was drunk or just trying to be heard above the noise.

Cole also told Madison that a now-infamous picture of the Richmond and Mays holding the girl by her hands and ankles as they carried her out of a party “was a joke” photo and agreed with Madison’s assertion that nobody knew what just happened before the photo was taken, or what happened immediately after it was taken.

He also told Madison that he’d told investigators “as much as I could remember and as truthfully as I could.”