In a calm, straightforward manner, Robin Gardner described in Fulton County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday how she fought for her life 28 years ago at the hands of James Worley.
On the final day of testimony by the prosecution in the Sierah Joughin murder trial, Gardner, 54, recounted an attack by Worley on a country road near Whitehouse, Ohio, the circumstances eerily similar to those alleged in the Joughin case.
As Worley looked on passively, Gardner told the court how on July 4, 1990, she began her day with a bicycle ride. On Obee Road, about a mile from her house, her bicycle was struck by a pickup truck with a flatbed trailer connected. Gardner testified that just moments before the truck had passed her in the opposite direction.
She said her bicycle crashed in a ditch in an area with few houses and barely any traffic. “There was nobody around. I thought it was just a freak accident,” she said.
When she stood up the driver of the truck approached and asked if she was all right. He then struck her in the head with a hammer and placed her in a stranglehold. Gardner said he called her vulgar names and told her, “Get in the truck or I’m going to kill you.”
She said she screamed and fought as he dragged her to his vehicle. When they reached the truck her attacker threw her inside through the front passenger door and handcuffed her on one wrist. Gardner said she then grabbed the steering wheel to prevent him from cuffing the other wrist.
She said as she continued to fight the man she saw an eastbound motorcycle approaching. “I was struggling as much as I could so (the rider) could see I was in distress,” she said.
When her attacker released her arm Gardner climbed across the seat and escaped through the driver’s side door. She ran to the motorcycle, which had stopped, and told the driver, “Please help me. This guy is going to kill me.” She said Worley responded, “Don’t listen to her. She’s crazy.”
The motorcycle driver gave Gardner a lift back home, where her mother contacted the authorities and called for an ambulance. But prior to being transported to a hospital, she was accompanied back to the attack scene, where the man had remained.
Gardner said the man she identified as her attacker was James Worley.
She said after repeated attempts the handcuffs were finally removed with a bolt cutter. She spent three days in the hospital recovering from a skull fracture and a concussion.
Worley was found guilty of abduction in a Lucas County court, and spent just under three years in prison.
In a brief cross-examination, defense attorney Merle Dech emphasized that Worley remained at the scene following the incident.
The defense will present its case on Friday. Closing arguments in the trial are expected on Monday, with the case then handed to the jury.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.
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