Man recounts the night he killed Scott Cole
A childhood full of physical and sexual abuse resurfaced for Rashawn D. Williams on the night he killed Scott Cole, Williams told the jury on the fourth day of his trial.
On day four of his trial, Williams was called by the defense to testify that his and Cole’s relationship had been complicated. When asked if their relationship was of a sexual nature, he said it was not and that Cole was angry that Williams wouldn’t have sex with him.
“He was very controlling, aggressive and demanding,” he said. “I couldn’t handle it anymore … I was avoiding him.”
Despite the aggression Williams felt in the relationship, he said he continued to try to patch things up with his friend, who he felt he shared similarities with.
“He told me his family disowned him,” Williams said. “My biological father disowned me.”
According to Williams, throughout his childhood he had been physically and sexually abused and the trauma from those encounters had followed him into his adulthood. The defense also brought forward Psychologist Scott Scotilla, who told the jury he diagnosed Williams with PTSD from those experiences.
Scotilla said Williams experienced a number of classic signs of the disorder and was experiencing signs of living through trauma — such as nightmares.
“A rape victim can be brought back to the same fear state just by the smell of a cologne,” Scotilla said. “That chronic re-experiencing is a hallmark of PTSD.”
Williams’ testimony on Thursday regarding how Cole died on the morning of June 22, greatly differed from his interview with police. He explained that he had an authority problem and most of what he said to police were lies.
Early in the trial, Nicole Spring, county first assistant public defender, told the jury there was no doubt who had committed the crime but that the defense’s evidence would prove the attack was not premeditated.
The defendant said on the night of Cole’s death, he fell asleep in his living room with his front door unlocked and woke to Cole touching his body.
“I hear the front door open and I thought it was my roommate,” he said. “I feel someone touch my thigh and my butt and the person standing there was Scotty (Cole).”
Williams said on that night he hadn’t invited Cole into his house and was stunned to see him there — reiterating that he was always adamant he didn’t want to have sex. Cole wouldn’t leave the house when asked to, according to Williams, and did not seem like himself.
“When I looked in his eyes I didn’t see the Scotty I knew,” he said. “He looked different.”
Williams said during this altercation, Cole continued to say to him “(Expletive) I ain’t leaving here till I get what I want.”
The two began to fight one another, with Cole spraying Williams’ body twice with mace and continuing to try to touch his genitals, Williams said.
Cole and Williams then stumbled into Williams’ kitchen, where he said Cole threw a chair at him.
“At this point I am scared,” he said. “I start to have flashbacks.”
Williams then grabbed a knife from the kitchen sink, which he said he planned to use to scare Cole away. Williams said he managed to bring him and Cole back into the living room and open his front door, before Cole once again sprayed him with the mace, but this time in the eyes.
“After this, I tried to clear my eyes — he’s still coming towards me,” Williams said. “I stabbed him when he maced me in my face. All I wanted to do was get him out of my house.”
The two men continued to fight as they moved out onto Williams’ porch. Williams’ said it was on the porch that Cole again grabbed him by the groin and he lost control of himself.
“I blacked out,” Williams said. “I had visions of my childhood.”
The next thing Williams said he remembered was Cole walking out into the street, where he collapsed to the ground. Cole had 35 stab wounds on his body at the time of his death.
Scotilla later said someone with PTSD, like Williams, would particularly be vulnerable after having someone refusing to leave his home and touching his genitals.
“They would be much more vulnerable to an overreaction than you or I would be,” Scotilla said.
The last day of the trial has been rescheduled and now is planned to last until Monday.