October 25, 2021

Jury deliberates for 2nd day in Cole rape trial

Kevin L. Smith/staff reporter

Defense attorney Luke Fenchel, left, and Raymond Cole jr. — who has been charged with rape and kidnapping — listen to the first defense witness Monday in Cole’s trial, resuming after a coronavirus-inspired delay.

Jurors returned to the Cortland County Courthouse this morning to begin the second day of deliberations in the case of a man accused of holding a woman captive for four days in 2019 and drugging and raping her repeatedly.

Raymond Cole Jr., 59, who was indicted July 19, 2019, in Cortland County Court, accused of drugging, raping and holding a 34-year-old woman captive in his 13 Brown Ave., Cortland, residence from May 30 to June 3, 2019.

Police reports said the woman reported being locked in a basement closet, injected about 30 times with a “bath salt” drug known as Molly and was raped daily.

Cole was charged with 18 felonies: three counts of first-degree rape; six counts of second-degree assault; five counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; and four counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment. He also faces five misdemeanor counts of second-degree unlawful imprisonment.

Thursday morning, jurors asked the court reporter to read back to them testimony from witness Arvin Strauf, a neighbor of Cole, and his response to questions from Cortland County Assistant District Attorney Jessica Weyant and defense attorney Luke Fenchel.

Strauf testified he heard noises coming from the basement between May 30 to June 3.

Court Reporter Roxanne Buss read from the transcript that Strauf said he heard people in the basement.

“Question: Did you hear anything else after?” Buss read, quoting Weyant.

“Answer: Yeah. I heard moans and groans.”

Buss also read back that Strauf had heard Cole tell people in Cole’s basement to “keep an eye on things” over that period.

Strauf had also testified that he saw syringes both inside and outside of the house, but did not see anyone using drugs inside the house.

The afternoon was spent researching a response to the jury’s request at 11:55 a.m. for testimony of two witnesses that included the word “sex.”

For the last half hour before the jury was sent home for the day at 4:15, lawyers reviewed the portions of the testimony to determine which would be read to the jurors, taking into account the context of those statements.

When the court resumes at 8:30 a.m. today, the statements of one of the witnesses will be read to the jury and then the attorneys will review the other witness’s testimony before it is read to the jury.

Jurors also asked for readbacks of testimony from another two witnesses, one involving a woman’s conversation in a tent at Cole’s home and the other about a conversation that a different woman who had spoken with the victim and overhearing the victim speak from another room.”