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Mute, Paralyzed Woman 'Nails' Accused Attacker

December 04, 1997| From Associated Press

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A woman who was beaten so severely when pregnant that she gave birth in a vegetative state was wheeled onto the witness stand Wednesday to identify the man charged with attacking her, even though she remains mute and partially paralyzed.

Jill Marker, 36, slowly raised a twitching arm to point out the man charged with bludgeoning her two years ago.

When she was asked again if the defendant was the man, her father helped her raise her arm to a board and scrawl: "It was."

Marker's testimony completed the prosecution case, and attorneys for Kalvin Michael Smith rested without presenting any witnesses.

"There is no question in my mind--she nailed him," Assistant Dist. Atty. Eric Saunders said outside court.

Defense attorney William M. Speaks Jr. suggested that Marker was coached by prosecutors.

"Whatever black man was sitting there, she was going to say it was him," Speaks said. "They told her she is going to identify whoever was sitting in this courtroom."

Jurors got the case late in the afternoon and deliberated about 1 1/2 hours before quitting for the night. Smith could get up to 22 years in prison if convicted of armed robbery and assault with intent to kill.

Marker was attacked on Dec. 9, 1995, during a $295 robbery at the Silk Plant Forest store where she worked.

Smith, 26, was accused of beating Marker so brutally that her head became "mush," according to a description by a paramedic who testified earlier.

A neurosurgeon who removed pieces of skull and blood clots from her brain said he believed that she was struck more than 20 times with a blunt object.

Marker is paralyzed below the waist, has to be fed through a stomach tube and breathes with the help of a tracheotomy and an oxygen tube. She was pregnant at the time of the beating and was still in a semiconscious vegetative state when her son was born.

She was brought to Winston-Salem on Monday from Akron, Ohio, where her husband, Aaron Marker, moved the family weeks after the attack to be near relatives. Their son, Barron, is 20 months old and healthy.

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