The prosecution and defense in the trial of Melanie Curtin, who is accused of two crimes amid a larger investigation into former Livingston Parish sheriff’s lieutenant Dennis Perkins, both rested their cases Thursday after two days of testimony from witnesses and the victim.
Both sides will present their closing arguments in court Friday, after which Judge Brian Abels will give the 12-person jury his final instructions before sending them into deliberation.
Including the victim, jurors heard from six witnesses that included two investigators and two expert witnesses. They also watched a graphic video that was timestamped the night of the alleged rape.
Curtin, 42, is accused of aggravated rape and video voyeurism stemming from the alleged incident that took place on Nov. 8, 2014.
If convicted, Curtin faces life in prison. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Thursday, Curtin said she would not take the stand.
Curtin’s trial is part of a larger sex crimes case being built against Dennis Perkins, a former lieutenant in the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, and his ex-wife Cynthia Perkins, a former middle school teacher. The case against Dennis and Cynthia Perkins, who face a combined 150 charges, has drawn much attention since their arrests in October 2019.
Curtin became implicated in the matter after investigators from the Louisiana Attorney General’s discovered a video of an alleged rape during their search of Dennis Perkins’ home after his arrest. Curtin was arrested in New Orleans in February 2020 after investigators identified her as the woman Perkins allegedly videotaped the rape with.
Neither of the charges against Curtin involve children.
The 17-minute video investigators discovered allegedly depicts sex acts between three people: Dennis Perkins, Curtin, and the victim, whose testimony in court Thursday came one day after jurors were shown the full the video.
Prosecutors have said the video shows the victim, who appears to be unconscious with a blanket over her head, being raped by both Perkins and Curtin, who took turns recording the assault with a cell phone.
The victim, whom The News is not identifying, became emotional at several points while on the stand Thursday, saying she “wanted to literally die” when she reviewed a portion of the video of the alleged rape.
John McLindon, Curtin’s defense attorney, had the victim read through a series of text messages she and Curtin sent each other before and after the alleged rape occurred. She acknowledged inviting Curtin over but said she never would have consented to sex with both Dennis Perkins and Curtin. She recalled feeling “uncomfortable” when Perkins suggested the three engage in a “threesome,” though she isn’t sure when he made the comment.
In the text messages spanning Nov. 7-9, 2014, the victim asks Curtin at least twice to hang out with her and Perkins the night of Friday, Nov. 7. The victim, who acknowledged she was drinking that night, also read text messages from the next two days expressing a hangover and an inability to remember what happened the night of Nov. 8.
The victim testified that she had not seen the video in its totality, adding that she “didn’t want to picture it” after investigators first showed her a segment of it. Before then, she was unaware of its existence.
The victim said that she has no recollection of the night in question, before she was shown the video or since.
“When I learned about it (the video), I couldn’t even wrap my brain around it,” she said. “I didn’t think it was possible.
“When I saw parts of that video, I wanted to literally die.”
When pressed on how much of the video or what portions of it she has seen, the victim was unable to give an answer, saying multiple times that she avoids thinking about it.
“I don’t want to picture it,” the victim said.
The jury saw the video in question on Wednesday, the day attorneys on both sides delivered their opening statements and questioned two investigators from the Attorney General’s Office.
Prosecutors have said Curtin was a willing participant in the “coordinated rape,” saying she was “in complete control of herself, both mentally and physically.” The defense has argued that Curtin was also a victim herself of Dennis Perkins, who Curtin claims drugged her the night of the alleged rape.
Curtin has maintained she has no memory of the night in question, and no evidence was presented showing she possessed the video.
Jurors saw the video again Thursday afternoon, when Abels had the courtroom cleared while a toxicology expert reviewed the video and explained whether Curtin could have been drugged based on the video’s contents.
Closing arguments are set for Friday morning.