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FEAR Project: The Evidence Room

September 15th, 2006

SEPTEMBER 14, 2006 – SEATTLE, WA According to the prosecuting attorney, it was a crime of opportunity. As in, the defendant Yousef Jama created an opportunity to commit a crime. After a night of drinking at a club Jama took a mutual male friend home first, leaving himself and Abby alone in his vehicle. Everyone seems to agree on this point. (Left: An evidence bag)

What happened next, according to Abby, was Jama drove into an alley where two men got into the vehicle’s back seats. They drove further into the darkness and stopped after which one man held her down from behind while Jama and the other man raped her. She fought, biting Jama, slamming her hand against the right window, kicking at the windshield so hard it cracked, and continued to scream even as a gun was held to her head. When the two men finished she was pushed out of the car. They dropped her clothing on the asphalt and drove away. (Right: The gun).

Beaten, bitten on the chest, and raped she found her way back to the house where she was staying as a guest. The next day, at the urging of her mother in on the east coast and the mutual male friend, she called the police and went to Harborview for a sexual assault exam. Unfortunately, she had already showered. (Left: Jama’s car windshield).

I could read all of this in the transcripts sitting in front of me on the evidence table. I could smell the detergent on her clothes, even after two years of storage in a cardboard box, the kind printer paper comes in. There were pictures, there were hand prints, and there was a very realistic looking bb gun that the man in charge of the evidence room couldn’t let me hold. (Right: Abby identifies Jama from a mug shot lineup).

Having made it through one trial with a hung jury–the one dissenter apparently was a young African-American woman who flirted with Jama while he was on the stand–Jama continues to plead innocence. Round two is scheduled for late October. He is on his fourth attorney. (Right: The evidence room).

Abby continues to study medicine on the east coast and lives knowing that she will have to return to Seattle to have her character torn apart, to be called a liar, and to face one of two men who she believes raped her in an alley. (Left: Shooting evidence).

This story is for the FEAR Project.

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