Webster gives testimony as own witness

By Kristin M. Kraemer, Herald staff writer April 21, 2009 

Locked in jail for 11 months with only pictures of his girlfriends to spark his fantasies, David Webster said it was curiosity in 2003 that led him to have sex with his cellmate.

Webster took the stand on the eighth day of testimony in his rape trial and denied the allegations, saying it was consensual sex between two men.

"I'm not a homosexual. It was just like a bicurious thing," he told jurors. "It's something that a lot of other people in the jails do."

In his hourlong rambling testimony, Webster gave graphic details of what he claimed happened in that cell over the course of six hours.

The man, now 31, has testified that Webster raped him three times overnight Sept. 30, 2003, and threatened to kill him if he resisted.

But Webster countered that it was "a consensual plan that I manipulated, and (the man) manipulated to think it was rape. He was not distraught until the next morning."

Webster told jurors he was embarrassed about divulging the specifics, saying, "I didn't want to come tell y'all my personal business but I got to."

Yet as he painted a more-than-vivid picture for the jury, Webster interrupted himself to ask court reporter Cheryl Pelletier, "Are you getting that?"

While most of the jurors watched Webster, a few looked away.

Webster is acting as his own attorney in Franklin County Superior Court on three counts of first-degree rape.

His sudden decision to stop calling witnesses and put himself on the stand Monday afternoon followed a contentious exchange with Alan Hooper.

Hooper had served time in the Franklin County jail with Webster. He was called as a defense witness to help bolster Webster's claims of being mistreated in jail.

However when asked what he thought of Webster, Hooper didn't hold back.

"I think you're a predator, dude. I think you're a very dangerous person. I think you manipulate," he said. "I think every time you're behind those bars, you just manipulate every time these guards come in. These guards are not bad persons."

Webster shouted back that he had called Hooper to testify for him, not on behalf of corrections officers.

Hooper currently is in custody at the Benton County jail. When he was brought into court unshaven and wearing green jail garb, Judge Cameron Mitchell asked jail staff to allow Hooper to clean up and put on street clothes to testify.

Hooper accused Webster of looking over his shoulder one day in jail when he called his 88-year-old father, then later phoning the man once Hooper was out of jail. He also said Webster threw "piss" on him in jail.

"I don't like you, I don't like what you represent and I don't really care about you," Hooper testified.

"I don't care about you either," Webster responded.

Webster was leaning over the defense table and pointing fingers at Hooper. He ignored repeated orders from Mitchell to quiet down and let his witness complete his answer before asking another question.

"What do you know I represent?" Webster asked.

"Fear. You try to put fear in people," Hooper said.

As Webster became more irate and agitated in front of the jury, he quickly found himself surrounded by four officers with the state Department of Corrections, an administrator with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, a jail officer and two bailiffs.

Mitchell ordered Webster removed from the courtroom, and asked the bailiffs to take the jury out. Webster was subdued when he returned after lunch and -- when Hooper said he was sorry if he'd been a problem earlier -- Webster also apologized.

Webster has said that the trial is part of an "ongoing conspiracy" in the legal and law enforcement community since his first Franklin County case in 2002.

Five lawyers and a West Richland police officer subpoenaed last week by Webster were excused Monday by Mitchell, who said questions Webster had for the men were not relevant to his rape case.

The testimony he sought from the attorneys ranged from alleged statements that he was being oppressed to an interview with a fellow inmate who can't be found.

"They got a lawyers club and all of them in cahoots together ...," Webster told Mitchell. "It's an ongoing conspiracy ... and they try to exploit the fabrication of another crime."

He also wanted Officer Terry Boehmler to take the stand, but Mitchell ruled that any testimony he may offer should be dealt with on appeal in Webster's earlier case. Boehmler was undercover posing as a hit man in 2002 when Webster made a deal with him to kill the woman who'd accused Webster of raping her and biting off her eyebrow.

"A conspiracy, sometimes it grow like a snake and sometimes it going to continue to grow and grow until somebody stop it," Webster added.

Webster has repeatedly told jurors that he was acquitted in the first case, and never was arrested on the current charges.

He in fact was convicted in 2003 of second-degree assault on the woman and solicitation to commit first-degree murder. The jury acquitted him of the rape charge.

That trial came to a close just days before Webster allegedly raped his cellmate.

Webster has said that man "spit this venom" and plotted against the county to get money. He also claims that prosecutors have made him the public's "fall guy" and that both cases have been a ruse.

"I'm being wrongfully accused and attacked," said Webster, who is serving 26 years on the 2003 conviction.

Webster argued Monday as he questioned Hooper about the jail that he wants to show jurors "the naked truth, not something made up for a show."

Webster tried explaining that jail is a "different world" where every man is not a man because some are "he-shes" or homosexuals who play "the girl role."

"Some of you, you may be educated in your own field. But in this field you're not until somebody teach you," he said, facing the jury. "And the only way you can be taught is you have to be told the whole truth ... so I need you to listen real well."

Webster said the reason corrections officers didn't see anything suspicious going on inside their cell that night was because there was nothing wrong.

"You can't see what's not there. You can't see what's two people doing what they wants to do," Webster testified. "The reason they been having a hard time finding the evidence, there wasn't none."

A former state forensic scientist testified earlier in the trial that evidence in a sexual assault kit matched Webster's DNA, and that no other person in the world has that same DNA profile.

Webster argued Monday that he expected doctors to find his DNA. "That's not rape, that is the result of consensual sex."

Assistant Attorney General Melanie Tratnik cross-examined Webster for just six minutes.

"Mr. Webster, did you feel mistreated by the jail for all that time in segregation?" she asked.

"I always feel mistreated," he said.

When asked if he felt he was falsely convicted, Webster said, "It didn't make me angry, I was angry." He added that he feels he is being railroaded by police, the jail, the system and the jurors who have convicted him in prior crimes.

Webster told jurors that he has been fighting for seven years to clear his name.

"It's like a movie and I want to be victorious. I don't want to be labeled as a rapist because I'm not a rapist. And I don't want to be labeled as a racist because I'm not a racist," Webster said. "I want the jury to see that this man is labeling me for what he read in the newspaper and for the fact that he really don't like black folks himself."

Testimony in the trial may continue this morning in the Franklin County Courthouse.

w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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