October 23, 2021

Lawyers outline arguments

Prosecution, defense make opening statements in Cole rape trial

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Cole, left, watches Tuesday morning while defense attorney Luke Fenchel gives his opening statement to the jury in Cortland County Court. Cole is accused of drugging, raping and holding a woman captive last year.

The prosecutor has witnesses, forensic evidence and a story of a woman kidnapped, drugged, and raped over four days late last spring. The defense says the witnesses and the story are not credible.

Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti and defense attorney Luke Fenchel set differing tones Tuesday in opening statements in Cortland County Court in the case of Raymond Cole Jr., 59, who is accused of locking a 34-year old woman in his Cortland home for four days last year and repeatedly drugging and raping her.

Cole was indicted July 19 in connection with the events from May 30 to June 3, accused of these felonies:

  • Three counts of first-degree rape.
  • Six counts of second-degree assault.
  • Five counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
  • Four counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment.

Additionally, he was charged with five counts of second-degree unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor.

“We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way,’” Perfetti said in his opening statement. “Testimonials show that these were the threatening words the defendant, Raymond C. Cole Jr., used” against the victim May 30.

Perfetti said Cole lured the victim — with whom he had a prior relationship — into the home by showing her items he bought to “purchase her love,” he said. When that failed, Perfetti said Cole subdued the woman by straddling her body, injecting her with a drug sometimes referred to as bath salts or Molly and raping her.

Cole then forced her into the bottom of a pantry closet and locked her in, Perfetti said.

The woman told police in June that Cole held her captive in the house at 13 Brown Ave., Cortland from May 30 to June 3, police reported. During that time, she reported being locked in a basement closet, injected about 30 times with the drug and being raped daily.

Cortland police received information and were able to confirm through a witness who was arrested June 3 about the woman being locked in the basement, Perfetti said. That led to the search and Cole’s arrest.

“You will know of all the evidence, that the defendant, Raymond C. Cole Jr., is guilty and meant what he said to her (the victim) when he said, ‘We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way,’” Perfetti said.

Fenchel stressed the Cs the jury must consider: corroboration, credibility and confidence.

“This story, this theory of the case, must make sense,” Fenchel said. “The totality of the circumstances must lead you to no other conclusion but of what the prosecution asks.”

Fenchel presented a scene of the victim hiding at the house as she had a warrant out for her arrest, citing a charge by Perfetti.

The victim had been charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, Perfetti said in court.

“You’re about to be introduced to a group of individuals for whom drug use and law enforcement avoidance are a way of life,” Fenchel said.

The victim also left and returned voluntarily to the house, which Perfetti didn’t mention, Fenchel said.

“You may not consider Mr. Cole a model citizen,” Fenchel said. “You may not consider him an ideal relative or friend. But even a troubled person deserves a fair trial.”

Cole has been through the justice system more than 30 times since 1982. He has faced a total of 12 felony cases, two of which were violent, and 19 misdemeanors. He was convicted four times, including a violent felony involving a weapon.

Cole has also had at least one parole and one probation revocation and previous adjudication as a youthful offender.

Cole’s trial continues today.