WARSAW — The Jury trial for a Warsaw man accused of rape continued this morning, Wednesday, April 24. Todd Lynn Cornett II is facing one charge of rape, a level 3 felony. The incident allegedly occurred in June 2018 when Cornett is accused of raping a female who was intoxicated. The State rested after presenting one more witness and the defense began its argument.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz called Warsaw Police Department Detective Lieutenant Paul Heaton as the State’s fifth and final witness.
Heaton spoke about the events leading up to the formal interview of Cornett. Cornett’s formal interview with Heaton was played for the jury. During the interview, Cornett told Heaton that he and the victim had been playing a drinking game during the night in question. Cornett went on to say that the victim was taking “shot after shot” of alcohol.
During the recorded interview, Cornett initially denied having sexual intercourse with the victim. “Absolutely not … not my type,” he told Heaton. But as the interview continued, Cornett changed his story and admitted to having sexual intercourse with the victim. He stated, “It was internal, I just went with it … she forced that on me.” Cornett told Heaton that he did not initially admit to the sexual intercourse because his girlfriend, now wife, was also there during the night in question. During the interview, Cornett assured Heaton that he and his girlfriend have an open relationship.
Heaton then confirmed to the jury that a rape kit was collected from the victim but it was not tested because Cornett had admitted that sexual intercourse occurred between the two of them.
During the cross-examination, Defense Attorney David Kolbe pointed out that before filing the formal affidavit of probable cause, Heaton did not investigate the interior of the Cornett home, did not speak with the neighbors or any of the other witnesses present there that night and had not seen the photographs taken of the victim’s injuries from the Fort Wayne Sexual Assult Treatment Center.
During redirect, it was clarified that Heaton had attempted to contact two other individuals present that night, Issac Farmer and Summer Robertson, in March but was unsuccessful.
At this time, the State rested and the defense began its argument.
The first witness called to the stand for the defense was Todd Cornett, Cornett’s father. Todd Cornett confirmed that during the night in question, the victim had walked in on him in the bathroom around 3 or 4 a.m. He stated that she seemed “cheerful, happy,” during the interaction and denied noticing any signs of intoxication.
The defense’s second witness was Farmer. Farmer told the jury about the events leading up to the night in question, including the group traveling together to go swimming at a local lake. According to Farmer, there was a point where the victim was attempting to get back on a pier but kept falling. This was brought up because of the injuries previously noted on the victim’s body. Famer testified that the morning after the alleged incident, the victim was happy and “nothing but smiles.”
The third witness called to the stand for the defense was Robertson. During Robertson’s initial testimony, she also reviewed the swimming events that occurred on the night in question, including the victim struggling to get up on a pier. Robertson also stated that the next morning, the victim hugged Cornett’s mother.
During cross-examination, Voelz questioned why Robertson did not talk with Heaton when he contacted her in March. Voelz read quotes from the phone call, stating Robertson said “I’m not allowed to talk to you without a lawyer,” and “that’s just what I’m told.” When Voelz questioned Robertson about who told her not to talk, Robertson clarified that it was her own choice. Robertson later received a subpoena and spoke with Voelz for a deposition with Kolbe and Cornett present before the trial.
Voelz then began questioning Robertson about talking to either Cornett or the victim about a sexual encounter between the two. Robertson denied talking about sexual intercourse the morning after the alleged incident. Voelz then played Robertson’s full deposition for the jury. During the deposition, Robertson again initially says she did not talk to anyone and then admits that Cornett had asked her that morning if he had sex with anyone the previous night. Robertson admits that she spoke about this with the victim while driving her to meet a friend but did not say whether the two had had sexual intercourse together.
When asked why her story changed, Robertson replied that at first her memory was “blurred” but that she later remembered. Kolbe asked Robertson if her memory would have been clearer if an interview occurred in June rather than in March. Roberston confirmed this statement.
The trial will continue this afternoon with the continued argument from the defense, to be followed by closing arguments and jury deliberation.