Alleged victims of rapes, kidnappings testify at Penn Hills man's trial
September 16, 2010 4:15 AM
By Paula Reed Ward Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"He made me kiss him."
After snatching the sleeping 9-year-old girl from the loveseat of her Brighton Heights home, and sexually assaulting her in the middle of a cold November night in 2005, Michael Lipinski forced her to kiss him, the girl, now 14, testified Wednesday.
"After he kissed me, when he was done, he told me I was a woman," she said. "I asked if he was going to do it again, he said only if I wanted him to."
She was the third and final of the alleged victims of Mr. Lipinski to testify on the second day of his trial for rape, kidnapping and related charges. By the end of the day, both sides had rested. The defense did not call a single witness.
Closing arguments will be held today before Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.
Mr. Lipinski, 40, of Penn Hills, is charged in three separate attacks in 1998, 2002 and 2005. In each instance, police say, he entered the homes of the victims in the middle of the night.
An expert from the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said that Mr. Lipinski's DNA was found on evidence collected from all three victims, including blood, saliva and semen.
In each instance, the DNA matched Mr. Lipinski.
Janine Yelenovsky told the jury that the chances the DNA would match someone other than Mr. Lipinski ranged from 1 in 59 million on one piece of evidence, to 1 in 750 quintillion on another.
Judge Manning asked, "There are 6 billion people on the planet. We're excluding all of them, right?"
"Yes," Ms. Yelenovsky answered.
While those numbers might prove the most damning for the defendant, the most compelling testimony of the day belonged to the three victims.
The first to testify was from the 2002 case. She was just 3 years old at the time.
Now 11 and in sixth grade, the girl was sleeping in bed with her mother and brother on April 11, 2002, when, police say, Mr. Lipinski entered their Wilkinsburg home and took her.
"A man walked in our house. Then he stole me," she told the jury. "He put me in his car and drove me someplace, and I don't remember where. And he took me out of the car, he opened up my pajamas and he touched me in my private areas.
"I remember after that, he just closed my pajamas, and he left."
"Were you all by yourself?" asked Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka.
"Yes, until someone found me."
"Was it dark outside?" the prosecutor continued.
"Were you cold?"
"Were you scared?"
The girl described the impact the attack had on her.
"I sometimes get really scared so I have to sleep with my mom," she said. "I get scared to be alone. I'm afraid when I see men I don't know."
The earliest of the victims in the case, who was 17 at the time, testified that she wasn't supposed to be at her East Hills home the night she was attacked.
Instead, on Aug. 28, 1998, the girl was supposed to have gone to her aunt's home. But she fell asleep watching a movie in her mother's bed, so she stayed there.
She woke up about 3 or 4 a.m. by someone nudging her.
"I had a butcher knife to my throat, a man on my back telling me not to scream."
The man, who was wearing a mask, told her that he wasn't going to hurt her. He tied her hands behind her back with an extension cord.
"I asked if he would wear a condom. I asked if he had any diseases. He said, 'no.' I asked if he was going to kill me. He said, 'no.' "
And then he raped her.
When he was finished, the woman, now 29, said that the man cut the extension cord off her hands and told her to count to 100. Then he left.
In the 2005 incident, the girl, now 14, testified that Mr. Lipinski carried her out of her home while she was sleeping, and that she woke up outside with his hand covering her mouth.
He made the girl, who was the only one able to identify her attacker, walk a short distance and then made her sit down.
"He asked me if I knew what sex was," she said. "I said 'yes' and said, 'Please don't do this to me.'"
Then, she continued, Mr. Lipinski made her sniff a powder he had in a plastic bag.
"I couldn't really breathe. It was hurting my chest," she said. "He told me if I scream he was going to kill my mom. He said he had a knife."
The man made her walk a short distance more and then stopped behind an apartment building. He made her undress and then lay down. The sexual assault lasted about 10 minutes, she said.
When it was over, he carried her to another building where he tied her to a set of wooden stairs with a black bandana. He then fled, she said. Though she was able to work her hands free, she waited several minutes before approaching a man walking his dog to get help.
Pittsburgh police Detective Scott Evans, who interviewed Mr. Lipinski after a national database matched his DNA to the local crimes, said he blamed it on drug use.
Mr. Lipinski told police he had a troubled childhood, in which he was removed from his home at the age of 5. He claimed that at age 8 or 9, he went to live with a Homewood preacher, whose female companion sexually assaulted him.
He also told the detective that he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for anger issues, and that he used cocaine for many years, spending as much as $1,000 per week.
While Mr. Lipinski worked construction, he also told Detective Evans that he committed burglaries to support his habit.
"He said these drugs triggered a sexual aggression in him that started when he was young," the detective said. "During burglaries, he would find opportunities with girls. He was going to have sex whether his partner wanted to or not."