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Jailhouse phone calls, a stun gun found in the suspect’s car and a strand of hair led to the conviction of a registered sex offender accused of attacking a woman while she was jogging along Richmond Road last August.
Christopher Parris Cabral, 31, of Williamsburg, was found guilty of seven charges related to the abduction and sexual assault of a 25-year-old woman, who was shocked with a stun gun three times in the Aug. 31 encounter in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court on Friday.
Before he fled, Cabral told the victim he is a security officer and wanted to demonstrate the danger a woman faces when she runs early in the morning.
The attack took place on the 3000 block of Richmond Road near Patriot Plaza, which houses Lenox, Bounce House and Oishi.
Judge Michael McGinty issued a guilty finding for each of the charges Cabral faced heading into Friday’s trial: felony counts of robbery, aggravated sexual assault, strangulation, abduction with intent to defile and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, as well as misdemeanor counts of assault and battery and possession of marijuana.
Cabral, who was previously convicted in a 2005 sexual assault of a minor in Texas, has a sentencing hearing slated for 9 a.m. June 22.
McGinty cited three pieces of evidence – a strand of hair, a found stun gun and calls Cabral made from Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail – presented by the prosecution and the victim’s testimony as particularly incriminating.
Among the many items found in Cabral’s Ford F150 was a stun gun – fitting with the victim’s account that she had been shocked several times during the attack.
They also found security clothing and equipment – a black vest, hat and T-shirt with the word security written across the front, as well as a duty belt with a place for the stun gun, throwing knives, a flashlight and other tools.
As Cabral was being placed into a police car after his arrest, Williamsburg Police Officer Jonathon Powell noticed a strand of light brown, straight hair on Cabral’s beard.
Powell, who first responded to the victim’s 911 call from in front of the Chili’s on Richmond Road, where she fled following the attack, said the hair seemed to match the hair of the victim rather than that of Cabral, who has long, wavy, dark brown hair.
The strand of hair was sent to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, where experts tested it against hair from both the victim and Cabral.
While they were able to eliminate Cabral as the source of the hair, they could not rule out the victim; they also could not determine it belonged to her specifically. Instead, both the victim’s hair and the strand found on Cabral’s beard had the same mitochondrial DNA that matches one in 12 U.S. Caucasians.
“That on its own would not be enough for a conviction,” McGinty said. “But it’s consistent with [the victim’s] account of the attack that would have taken place.”
Though Cabral maintained he had been in his truck – parked in the back of the Captain George’s parking lot near a tree line, with overhanging branches covering the passenger side and much of the top of the truck – waiting for his girlfriend throughout the investigation, he said otherwise in jailhouse phone calls during the ensuing months.
In a Nov. 19 call with an unidentified woman, Cabral said he approached the victim and talked to her. In a March 27 call, he said he gave her a hug and clarified it was not sexual in nature.
“Mr. Cabral has now admitted he was in the area and had contact with the victim,” McGinty said.
McGinty said he gave the victim’s testimony “great weight” in his determination, as she proved herself to be consistent, compelling and reliable.
The victim, a commissioned officer with the U.S. Coast Guard, testified she was jogging along Richmond Road around 5:30 a.m. Aug. 31 when she stopped to adjust the case on her phone.
She said saw a man also running on the sidewalk toward her, so she stepped into the grass to allow him to pass. When she saw him mimic her movement to the grass, she said she knew something was wrong and took on a more defensive posture.
He proceeded to move toward her, then shock her in the abdomen with the stun gun – which he would do two more times before the end of the attack. Though the woman fought back, Cabral overpowered her and dragged her behind a large bush, where they both fell to the ground.
The woman struggled against Cabral on the ground, but he restricted her breathing by wrapping one arm around her throat and one arm around her mouth. He then demanded she give him money; when she said she had none, he demanded she give him valuables but she again had nothing to give him.
She testified he became quiet at that point, then put one of his hands between her legs and began rubbing her vaginal area.
“It was almost like he was trying to caress. I wanted nothing to do with it,” she testified.
With one of his arms now loose, she was able to strike him in the abdomen. Though he still had control, he had stopped rubbing her and they eventually ended up back on their feet. He began to tell her he worked as a security officer and wanted to warn her that a woman should not run alone.
Cabral turned her around, covering her eyes, and asked her if she saw his face. She lied, saying she did not though she had seen it just before he attacked her. He then told her not to look at him as he left.
“I waited about five seconds after he left, then turned back around to get a look at him as he ran north [toward Captain George’s],” she testified.
She ran in the opposite direction, waiting until she felt she was in a sufficiently lit area where she felt safe to call 911. Powell met her in front of the Chili’s on Richmond Road, elicited a general description from her and drove her to the site of the attack.
While Powell was with her, they received notice a man fitting the description was found in the Captain George’s parking lot. Powell brought the victim to the parking lot and asked her if Cabral looked like the man who attacked her. She testified she said she was “99.8 percent sure” it was the same man. When asked what would make her 100 percent sure, she asked to hear his voice.
Powell called a fellow officer’s phone then put his phone on speaker so the victim could hear Cabral’s voice.
“It was his inflections on certain words, saying he worked security, etc., that completely clarified it for me,” she testified.
She also testified she has a particular expertise in recognizing voices, having spent three years determining whether calls for help to the Coast Guard were either hoaxes or the real thing based on whether the voice matched previous hoax calls.
The victim suffered abrasions and scratches on her back, neck and abdomen. She also had swelling on her neck and abdomen.
Investigators testified Cabral also had marks on his body that matched the victim’s testimony that she struck him in the head and abdomen during the struggle.