Rep's assault trial heads to jury

By 
Andy Metzger, State House News Service
Jan. 14, 2014

As testimony wrapped in the trial of Rep. Carlos Henriquez, his accuser, 25-year-old Katherine Gonzalves, reiterated her allegation that the Dorchester Democrat attacked her in the back seat of a rental car in the early hours of July 8, 2012.

“I remember being back-handed; I remember being held down; I remember being punched; I remember being held down,” Gonzalves said in her second day on the stand. She said she entered the lawmaker’s car with no keys, no purse, no money, only her cell phone.

Henriquez allegedly became angry upon learning that Gonzalves would not leave with him after he drove to Arlington at around 3 a.m., and allegedly struck her in the face, the chest and grabbed her by the throat before driving off with her in the back seat. She exited the vehicle in Boston, near Northeastern University.

“When he suddenly was not going to get what he wanted from his trip out there, he flipped,” Middlesex prosecutor Clarence Brown told the six jurors and two alternates at Cambridge District Court during the closing statements early Tuesday afternoon. He said, “What must have been going through Carlos Henriquez’s mind that night; when he snapped and backhanded Katherine Gonzalves his life changed. He was an elected official, and he had just physically assaulted a 23-year-old girl that he had been having a sexual relationship with for months.”

Presenting what she said were five varying accounts on poster boards, defense attorney Stephanie Soriano-Mills said Gonzalves had originally claimed Henriquez drove her around Boston for two hours and only changed the timeframe of her story when she realized detectives copied her text messages that indicated a different sequence. There were other inconsistencies that detectives failed to follow-up on, Soriano-Mills said.

“All of this is reasonable doubt. There’s no corroboration. There’s a lack of investigation. There’s an inconsistent statement that I believe rise to the level of not making sense,” Soriano-Mills told the jury. She cast skepticism on Gonzalves’ claim that bruises don’t usually appear on her until sometime later.

Before the closing statements, the final witness, Henriquez’s brother, neighbor and landlord Ricardo Bryant, described encountering Gonzalves around 11 p.m. Dec. 2, 2012, when she allegedly demanded to see Henriquez “if he wanted this thing to go away.”

Bryant, 43, had gone downstairs at 11 p.m. and noticed his younger brother sitting outside. It was the evening before a court date.

“Me being a little nosy,” Bryant said he had gone outside to inquire and Henriquez “told me he was waiting for Katherine to come over.” Bryant told him to go inside and soon encountered his brother’s accuser outside his house.

Gonzalves testified previously that she had drank that afternoon and taken Ambien and her roommate had drove her to Henriquez’s home.

“She started getting a little rowdy with me,” Bryant testified. He said Gonzalves said, “He needed to come outside or else.”

Bryant said he called the police, and before they arrived Gonzalves’s ride had returned to pick her up.

Gonzalves’s pro bono attorney Rick Brody was in court Tuesday, and previously told the News Service that the charge against Gonzalves related to that December incident had been dismissed.

Soriano-Mills, who has made note of Gonzalves’s appearance and dress throughout the incident and early investigation, questioned the woman about her relationship with Henriquez

“In fact it was just a sexual relationship,” Soriano-Mills said, challenging Gonzalves’s description of their relationship as “romantic.” She said, “Does that romantic relationship consist of one-hour per month?”

Soriano-Mills challenged Gonzalves to find anything romantic in Henriquez’s text message or email exchanges including his text message shortly before the incident seeking the location of Gonzalves’s mother’s home. While Brown displayed text messages to jurors he quoted it as saying, “Address if you’re trying to f---.” Gonzalves replied with the address, Soriano-Mills said.

The defense attorney suggested the young woman was motivated to smear the lawmaker and was not prepared for the response.

“She wanted more. She was angry that night when she felt used,” Soriano-Mills said.

Brown showed the jury emails, which he read aloud, that he said showed they were in a “mutual relationship.” One email from Henriquez said, “I like good trouble.”

During the final minutes of her time on the stand Tuesday, Brown asked Gonzalves about a condom wrapper found in the back seat of the rental car. Gonzalves said she didn’t know anything about it.

Soriano-Mills has attempted to show inconsistencies in Gonzalves’s accounts given to police, and she said there was “an abysmal job done by every police officer in this case. They took the word of Katherine Gonzalves and they ran with it. They didn’t corroborate anything.” She said, “They don’t even do their job.”

Arlington Inspector Edward DeFrancisco, the lead investigator, has testified that he did not exit his vehicle to inspect the alleged crime scene, and did not interview any potential witnesses who might have heard Gonzalves’s screams on the summer evening.

Gonzalves testified that she didn’t want to leave with Henriquez because her mother saw her on the way out of the house and did not want her to leave. DeFrancisco did not interview the mother, either, he testified.

DeFrancisco also said he was unaware of the variations between his account and those documented by Boston and Northeastern University police.

Gonzalves said she spoke to multiple investigators in the days after the event and has no specific recollection of what she said to each one in particular.

Soriano-Mills asked Gonzalves whether she remembers if after taking her cell phone away, Henriquez threw her cell phone back at her – as she testified Monday – or whether she grabbed it out of his hands, as DeFrancisco included in his report.

“I don’t recall,” Gonzalves said.

Brown advised the jury not to be fooled by a “magic act” where their attention is steered towards inconsequential actions, and said “the most critical fact” in the case is that Zipcar records show Henriquez was parking his rental car five minutes after a distraught Gonzalves walked into a Northeastern building around 4:18 a.m. seeking help.

“If there was no physical altercation, nothing happened, why leave this 23-year-old girl walking around on the streets of Boston with no way home and no ID, nothing. It defies logic,” Brown said. He said, “If she was creating this tale, she could have come up with a lot easier set of accusations to make.”