tampabay.com

Two accused in rapes to be tested

A judge orders HIV tests of the jailed men after the anxious victims make a request.

By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published May 17, 2007


DADE CITY -- It can't be used in court, but it can bring peace of mind to two frightened women.

A judge on Wednesday ordered HIV tests for men accused in two rapes in Zephyrhills in March.

Bobby Lee Black, 19, and Jathniel McMichael, 18, face sexual battery, kidnapping and other charges in the March 1 and March 27 attacks.

Florida law allows victims in sex cases to request HIV tests of the accused. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Neither Black nor McMichael were in court Wednesday. But they and their attorneys agreed to the tests.

"It's not admitting his guilt," attorney Scott Davis, who represents McMichael, told the Times. "It's simply following the laws passed by the Legislature."

Florida also allows people who knowingly transmit the AIDS virus to be charged, but that law doesn't apply in this case.

It's simply for the victims' reassurance.

In the first attack, authorities say a 66-year-old woman, living alone in Winters Mobile Home Park, was raped at knifepoint in the early morning of March 1.

Weeks later, a 68-year-old was attacked in a mobile home park about 2 miles away. Authorities say she was forced into her minivan, raped and then thrown down a deep quarry near Zephyrhills Municipal Airport. She managed to climb out and flag down a passer-by.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa ordered the tests be done today at the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes, where McMichael and Black are being held without bail.

A third man, 18-year-old Andre Brathwaite, faces drug and traffic charges related to the first incident. He is not accused of a sex crime.

"The victims are requesting" the tests, Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia told the judge, "and are kind of anxious to find out what the results are."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at (352) 521-6521 or moorhead@sptimes.com.