On the witness stand in a King County Superior Court room on Thursday, the surviving victim of a 2009 rape and attempted murder said she positively recognized Isaiah Kalebu as the man who had climbed into an open window of the South Park home she shared with her partner, Teresa Butz, raped them both repeatedly...
The Seattle woman who survived a brutal July 2009 attack in which her partner was killed said she positively recognized Isaiah Kalebu as the man who crept into her South Park home and repeatedly raped and tortured the couple at knife point.
“Without a doubt” it was him, she testified Thursday in King County Superior Court. “I felt it in every cell of my body.”
For a second day, the woman took the stand and told jurors about the nearly 90 minutes the couple were raped and slashed in their bedroom by the intruder. Her partner, Teresa Butz, 39, died of her wounds.
Days after the attack, the woman was told by detectives that Kalebu had been arrested. But, she said, it wasn’t until she saw Kalebu’s picture and heard recordings of his voice in a media account of the arrest that she was certain he was the man responsible.
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Kalebu, 25, is charged with aggravated murder, first-degree murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the aggravated-murder charge.
Speaking levelly at times and through sobs at others, the survivor talked about her conflicting fears and feelings during the attack. She wanted to reassure Butz and tell her she loved her, but feared that talking would raise their attacker’s ire.
She felt revulsion, but then relief, when the attacker caressed her back and praised her beauty because she wanted to protect Butz from the brunt of the attack.
She had hope when he apologized for nicking her with the knife. But that changed to despair when he got a second knife from his pocket and “something” changed in him. When she looked at him, she saw “no fear, no anger, nothing. … I just felt in that moment he was going to kill us.”
Kalebu’s attorneys declined to make an opening statement at the trial’s onset and have not yet outlined their defense. During cross examination, defense attorney Ramona Brandes asked whether the attacker had been “not callous” toward the victims. Like, for example, she said, when he allowed Butz to drink some water.
But the victim disagreed, saying Kalebu gave her water so he could continue the assault. “No, I don’t consider that a kindness.”
The Times generally does not name victims of sexual assault.
Kalebu was banned from the courtroom by Judge Michael Hayden after a series of disruptive outbursts during pretrial hearings. He has been watching the proceedings via a television feed from a nearby courtroom.
On Thursday, before the surviving victim took the stand, Kalebu had reportedly told his attorneys that he wanted to appear in court.
He was dressed in civilian clothes and prepared to go to court but refused to put his feet in the security boots.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.