Nine women and five men –12 jurors and two alternates — will hear from three alleged victims and dozens of witnesses, listen to lots of audio recordings, see videos of sex acts, review documents and try to figure out whether Samuel Barrett is guilty of sexual assault and related crimes, prosecution and defense attorneys said Wednesday morning.
Barrett, 40, is charged with six counts of first-degree sexual assault (rape), two counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of blackmail in the trial scheduled for eight days in Natrona County District Court.
“This is a very large intricate puzzle of a case,” assistant district attorney Ava Bell told the jury during her opening statement.
It’s not just a puzzle, Barrett’s defense attorney Don Fuller said at the beginning of his opening statement. “This is a sordid and twisted tale.”
The jury may not like Barrett, and they may not like anybody else, Fuller said. “This will not be easy; when the trial is over, you’ll be exhausted.”
Bell outlined the difficult case against Barrett that involves three women with separate but similar stories of how he assaulted them at gunpoint in incidents over more than seven years.
The first alleged victim, who will be identified as A.H., had a consensual sexual relationship with Barrett in 2015 when she was a teenager.
Four years later, she saw him at the west side Walmart, and her wanted to apologize for the previous relationship. Barrett asked her to drive to his house in Paradise Valley because he said he would help her pay for a car, Bell said.
She was inside when Barrett told her, “‘you ruined my life, now I’m going to ruin yours,'” and force her at gunpoint to perform a sex act, Bell said.
She was able to get outside after the dog escaped from her car, got in her car, drove a couple houses down the street, called a friend, and then called 911.
Bell played the recording of the 911 call, with a frantic A.H. trying to explain what happened and the dispatcher trying to calm her.
A search of Barrett’s electronic devices yielded information about the second alleged victim, who will be identified as K.C., who had worked as a waitress at a local restaurant in 2012. Barrett frequented that restaurant, became friendly with K.C., and they exchanged numbers.
They got together and he wanted sex. She refused, he assaulted her then made her shower then told her he would kill her if she told anyone about the incident.
However, they later struck up a sexual relationship and by then she had three children and was barely making ends meet, Bell said
In February 2019, K.C. was about to go to Las Vegas with her boyfriend and visited Barrett to ask him for money, Bell said.
She claimed he choked her, she woke up on the floor and he told her to do what he said or he would kill her. She acceded to his sexual demands because she was afraid he would kill her. Barrett made her shower afterwards and reapply her makeup to cover any indication she was crying.
The third alleged victim, who will be identified as A.G., was approached by law enforcement after a Natrona County Sheriff’s Investigator saw her name in relation to someone in this case.
A.G. got a job baby-sitting for Barrett. When she went to his house for the first time, he approached her from behind and pointed a pistol at her. Barrett also video-recorded an incident in which she was forced at gun point to perform a sex act on a child, and used that as blackmail to have a sexual relationship with him, Bell said.
Barrett sexually assaulted her twice in one day in July 2015, and told her he would rape and kill her mother if she talked.
Bell said the three cases have several things in common: certain sexual preferences, making the victims bathe after the assaults, threats to kill victims or their families, and the victims were economically vulnerable.
In his opening statement, Fuller said all the alleged victims had histories of consensual sex with Barrett, who was in an “open marriage” with his wife. Barrett also is a sex offender, having been convicted in 2009 of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.
“Your moral compass is going to be spinning in this case,” he told the jury.
The alleged victims all traded sex for money, gifts and attention, Fuller said.
Their stories don’t make sense for a lot of reasons, including two alleged victims who didn’t want to report the assaults, a lack of physical evidence, and a lack of police reports, he said.
No gun was ever found, and that makes it a lot harder to prove that Barrett sexually assaulted the women, Fuller added.
Even though A.G., alleged she was forced at gunpoint to have sex, Fuller said she moved herself and her children into Barrett’s house. “She pays sex rent.”
A.G., he added, is the daughter of Barrett’s wife’s boss. “Technically, she’s a step-niece.”
Among the evidence found in Barrett’s electronic devices are more than 1,000 text messages with expressions of love from A.G., Fuller said.
One of the alleged victims reported a sexual assault in late 2014, but law enforcement couldn’t find any evidence and didn’t believe she was being honest, he said.
“Officers didn’t buy her story in 2015, and you shouldn’t today,” Fuller said.
The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
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