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Alleged victim, father testify in first day of Eilander trial

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 10:30 a.m. CDT

The alleged victim and her father testified Wednesday afternoon in the criminal court trial of a Lynnville man accused of entering a home without permission and making sexual contact with one of the female residents.

Gary Lee Eilander, 43, of Lynnville sat through about three hours of testimony with District Court Judge Terry Rickers presiding. Eilander is charged with first-degree burglary and third-degree sexual abuse, both of which are Class C felonies. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

The trial recessed Wednesday afternoon after only the first two witnesses had testified. It was scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. this morning.

During direct examination by Assistant County Attorney Scott Nicholson, the alleged victim, who is now 18, testified she now lives in another town with her daughters, ages 16 months and 1 month, with their father. She testified she was living with her parents on June 29, 2012, when Eilander was alleged to have entered their home and performed a sex act on her against her will.

It is the policy of the Daily News to not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse or their family members if their identities would reveal the victim’s.

The alleged victim testified there had been a storm throughout the day of June 29, 2012, that eventually knocked out power to Lynnville shortly after she arrived for work. She further testified that because she wasn’t able to work, she returned home and went out to eat with her parents and siblings.

During his direct examination, the father said the family returned home sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. At the time, he noticed Eilander at the home of Zach Rea, which is across the street.

When they returned home, the alleged victim said she tended to her eldest daughter, who was her only child at the time and who was sick with a temperature and cough. Without power, and not much else to do for the evening, she said she went to bed early. She was unsure of the time but said it likely was before midnight.

The alleged victim said she shared her room with her biological sister and a step-sister, and that they turned in about the same time she did. Two younger brothers slept in a room down one hallway from her room, while her stepmother slept in another bedroom down another hallway.

She said her father was sleeping downstairs, something he often does as a result of falling asleep while watching TV or while using a laptop computer. On this particular night, he was staying downstairs due to the proximity of a battery-operated alarm clock and the power outage.

Because her daughter was sick, she had the infant lying next to her in bed, instead of in her usual bedroom on the first floor.

The alleged victim said she recalled waking up to the sound of sacks rustling above her head but thought it was one of the family’s two cats, which often got into her belongings. She drifted back to sleep, but awoke again to the sensation of someone touching the small of her back.

“Someone was rubbing the small of my back,” she said. “I didn’t know who it was. I rolled over and felt his hand go down the front of my pants.”

Under direct examination with Nicholson, she said there was skin-to-skin contact inside her underpants on her genitals. She didn’t know who it was, but the man was on his hands and knees next to her bed while touching her.

“I pushed him away,” she said. “I didn’t want him touching me.”

During cross examination by Eilander’s attorney, public defender Jonathan Noble, she said she could not see the alleged assailant’s face while he was in her room. She said she later saw him downstairs while being confronted by her parents. During direct examination, she identified Eilander as the alleged assailant.

She said she remained quiet because she thought Eilander may have a weapon. She then observed him opening drawers in both her and her sisters’ dressers and jewelry boxes.

She spoke out to him, asking why he was in her room, shortly before bolting out of the room and down the hallway to her parents’ room, where she notified her stepmother of the intrusion. At that time, she said, he was standing near her sisters’ bunk bed.

The alleged victim said she covered her daughter with a blanket, and noticed her sister sitting somewhat upright when she ran out of the room. She said her stepmother was already partially awake when she went into the room. She said her stepmother told her to run downstairs to get her father.

During his direct examination, the father said he has known Eilander since junior high school but didn’t have much interaction with him following high school. He said he woke up at approximately 4:20 a.m. when he heard noise consistent with someone walking across the kitchen tile floor.

A few moments later, when he could hear some neighborhood dogs barking, he realized the kitchen door to the outside was open, so he got up and closed it. He said it was standard practice at the time to leave the door unlocked at night.

“This is Lynnville,” he said. “Nothing happens in Lynnville.”

The alleged victim’s father awoke a few moments later when she came to him, stating someone was in the house, in her room, and that he had touched her. He immediately got up and walked to the staircase to upstairs off the adjacent dining room.

There, he met Eilander. His wife was a few steps behind. In his testimony, the father said he immediately recognized Eilander and asked why he was in the house.

Both the alleged victim and her father testified that the father and Eilander spoke back and forth on a first-name basis. Both said he was apologizing, but they weren’t sure why.

Both testified the father and his wife were trying to get Eilander out of the house until the alleged victim said they should check his pockets because he had been rifling through the dressers and jewelry boxes. At that point, they both testified, Eilander struggled free and ran out of the house.

Once Eilander left the house, the father called 911. While awaiting the arrival of Jasper County deputies, the father testified, he learned of the manner in which Eilander was alleged to have touched his daughter.

He said if he had known about the extent of the touching, “things would have gone differently.” Both he and his daughter testified they were not aware of anything taken from the home.

During cross examination, both the alleged victim and the father said they did not recall smelling alcohol or beer on Eilander’s person when they were in close proximity to him.

Following the father’s testimony, Rickers recessed the trial for the day.

In his opening statement to the jury earlier in the afternoon, Nicholson said this would not be “a case of whodunit, but rather a case of what did he do?” Noble deferred his opening statement until before defense witnesses were presented.

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