An alleged rapist has been allowed to question his victim in court for two hours over the night he attacked her.
Luis Munuzuri-Harris chose to represent himself for the harrowing cross-examination in which he took the woman through her ordeal in gruesome detail.
The 31-year-old went so far as to ask if she was wearing underwear during the attack and drew the process out by pausing for minutes on end between questions.
‘I was raped by you. You forced sex upon me,’ she was forced to tell him.
Harris has now apologised and appointed a public defender – who could call the woman back to the witness box to make her go through the entire process again.
The extraordinary scene unfolded at a court in Tampa, Florida, during Harris’ trial for sexual battery, aggravated assault and forced kidnapping.
He faces life in prison if convicted.
In a desperate move, Harris rejected the offer of a public defender and chose to cross-examine his alleged victim on his own about the fateful night in July last year.
According to the prosecution, he posed as an undercover narcotics officer, pulled her over in her car and raped her.
During the cross-examination she thwarted all of his attempts to make it look as if somebody else was responsible for the attack.
When Harris asked her, ‘When this person walks up to your car … do you get out of your car?’ she corrected him and replied: ‘When you walk up to my vehicle.’
She also claimed that Harris then used her ATM cards to withdraw money at a bank before raping her.
‘I was pushed up against the window and you were having sex with me from behind me,’ she said.
Harris’ tactics earned him a series of rebukes from Judge Chet Tharpe.
‘I will not allow you to stand at the podium and read the deposition, page by page, until you can figure out what your next question is,’ he said.
‘What is happening, Mr Harris, is that you are creating an undue hardship on this victim by asking her the same questions over and over.
‘It’s almost to the point of badgering this witness.’
Harris later gave in and asked for legal counsel and admitted that his decision to cross-examine his alleged victim was a mistake.
The case could be declared a mistrial due to alleged witness tampering but if not his lawyer could call the woman back to the witness box to question her again.
Judge Jeanine Pirro, a legal analyst and former prosecutor, said that it was perfectly legal for the accused to question their victim but that they rarely looked good coming out of it.
‘For a rape victim to not just recite, but relive the actual crime with the person who inflicted the crime upon her is the biggest deterrent you can have,’ she said.
‘This is a nightmare. There are victims who have tried to kill themselves, who have collapsed after testifying.’