The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld the conviction of a Chelsea man for human trafficking, deriving support from prostitution, rape, and two counts of assault and battery, all involving his former girlfriend, whom he'd convinced to prostitute herself and whom prosecutors say he then raped, beat and threatened to kill when he became convinced she was withholding some of her earnings.
Attorneys for Kenya Dabney had argued he deserved at least a new trial because the judge wouldn't let them ask prospective jurors if they thought an innocent man should have to testify during a trial - essentially rephrasing a Fifth Amendment question the judge was asking prospective jurors - ordered portions of some documents redacted so that they couldn't use them to try to impeach the victim's testimony and did not adequately inform the jury about the meaning of a conviction for human trafficking.
The state's highest court, however, said nothing the judge did deprived Dabney, who was not working while his girlfriend was walking the streets or responding to Backpage ads, of a fair trial and that his sentence of 10 to 14 years in prison, followed by five years of probation was fair.
In its ruling, the court recounted what led up to Dabney grabbing the victim by her genitals, trying to stab her with a switchblade - which he couldn't because the blade broke - and putting out a cigarette on her face:
The defendant punched the victim in the face, threw her to the ground, and kicked her, while continuing to yell. He grabbed her and told her that they were going home. He insisted that the victim was lying to him about the clients she had met with that night and the amount of money she had received. He continued to punch her, throw her against walls, choke her, and beat her, as he dragged her toward a taxicab stand. The victim continued to protest that she thought their relationship had ended. The defendant responded, "you're going with me and that's it."
As the victim and the defendant were entering a taxicab, two police officers arrived in response to a 911 call that a neighbor had placed; the neighbor had been awakened when he heard a woman screaming and reported that two women were fighting. As the officers approached, the defendant held a switchblade to the victim's side and told her that if she said anything to the police officers about the incident, he would kill her. The officers interviewed the victim and the defendant separately, but the victim was afraid and did not tell them what had happened. The victim said that she had been fighting with another woman and that she did not want to press charges.