Carjacking, Kidnapping and Sexual Assault Case Against Teen Not Quite Over
Mistrial on Rape Charges May Mean A New Trial
We’ve written before about the heartbreaking case of an 87-year-old great-grandmother who was returning books to the Waukesha library when she was kidnapped, carjacked and assaulted at knifepoint by an armed 14-year-old who happens to be the nephew of Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.
The crime took place in November 2021, just weeks after the Waukesha Parade Massacre. The victim, now 88, recounted with calm clarity how she was attacked at knifepoint at the library book drop, forced into her car, and sexually assaulted before Khalil Perry took her wallet and cell phone, dropped her off near a school, and drove off with her car. He told police “She was so old, I thought I could take advantage of her… I should never have did it. I knew it was wrong.”
Perry’s Defense Strategy
Step 1: He’s just a child, he’s incompetent, we don’t want that judge.
Perry’s defense team fought hard and long to keep the case in juvenile court and tried repeatedly to both evade Judge Jennifer Dorow’s courtroom and have him declared mentally incompetent; their efforts served to delay the trial nearly a year after the Waukesha Parade trial had wrapped.
Step 2: He’s a smart, good, caring kid.
Once in the courtroom, the defense strategy shifted from painting Perry as a mentally incompetent child to singing his praises as a bright, talented, driven young man who works to better himself and others. They characterized Perry as a kind, respectful, admirable, “great human being” who faced hardships, yet was such a caring son that instead of going to school, he spent the day of the attack selflessly looking for a job to help support his family. He was frustrated after walking miles during his unsuccessful employment search and after helping the victim return her books, he just made a bad decision.
Police characterized Perry as cold, emotionless, and matter-of-fact during interviews after his arrest. One officer testified Perry was “eerily calm…He sat there like nothing ever happened, never had remorse, never had sympathy, never said sorry.”
Knife Perry used in attack on elderly woman.
Step 3: The victim is lying.
The State Crime Lab analyzed rape kit swabs from the victim’s mouth and hands, and Perry’s genitals, underwear and mouth. The lab positively identified the victim’s DNA on Perry’s genitals. The small amount of male DNA found in the woman’s mouth and on her hands was not suitable for further testing.
Surveillance video of the Carroll University parking lot where the victim said the sexual assault took place showed the car there for several minutes during which the woman’s torso jerked down, corroborating her testimony that Perry directed her head forcefully toward him. Perry said they were only in the lot a “split second.”
Victim’s vehicle during attack seen on surveillance video
- Victim’s DNA on the suspect’s genitals: Check
- Male DNA in the victim’s mouth: Check
- Video evidence corroborating the victim’s account: Check
- Suspect caught lying: Check
- Defense blames the victim: Check
The victim told nurses and detectives as she underwent a sexual assault forensic exam at Waukesha Memorial Hospital after the attack, “He undid my pants, but he didn’t get any farther than that.” The defense used a recording of this statement to claim she was not sexually assaulted and later embellished her story, lying on the witness stand. (An account of the victim’s testimony can be found here.)
Perry’s defense attorney said: “I believe Kahlil’s version…Make no mistake, I’m not trying to say there was consent…I’m saying this didn’t happen.”
Notwithstanding that it is entirely possible for a woman to be sexually assaulted and end up with her DNA on the rapist and male DNA in her mouth without her pants having been fully removed, the sheer malignity of claiming an 87-year-old invented a rape that would require she spend some of the last years of her life preparing for a trial is astounding.
But the defense didn’t stop there.
They said the woman didn’t have enough injuries to be consistent with assault. They said it wasn’t physically possible to move her body past the gearshift. They said she got his shoe color wrong. They said the male DNA in her mouth could have been from someone else, or that the Crime Lab could have contaminated things. And they said that the victim’s accounts do not make sense, that she doesn’t see or hear well and those infirmities have to be taken into consideration.
The defense figured the old tropes about the why women supposedly lie about rape wouldn’t work here – the victim wasn’t punishing Perry because they had a bad breakup, and she wasn’t asking for it with her racy clothing. Instead they went with a new trope: that an older woman might just imagine a sexual assault because she is old, confused, needs glasses, or didn’t hear something clearly.
This approach to even articulate elderly crime victims, particularly those who are victims of sexual assault, should be troubling to everyone who expects to one day be a senior citizen.
The Verdict and Mistrial
Someone on the jury bought the defense’s story.
The jury found Perry guilty of armed robbery with use of force, auto theft with a weapon, and kidnapping, all of which he admitted to after arrest, although he pled not guilty.
But while the victim’s DNA was found on Perry’s genitals, the jury deadlocked on the sexual assault charges. Dorow would have allowed them to continue deliberating but they declined, and a mistrial was declared on the rape charge.
One juror is all it takes to stop the required unanimous verdict.
Perhaps a juror believed Perry’s defense team claim that the victim’s DNA on his genitals was likely just from him putting his hands in his pants sometime between the kidnapping and his arrest roughly an hour later. Perhaps they believed the State Crime Lab contaminated the samples. Perhaps they thought the victim was too old to know whether she was being sexually assaulted, since, after all, she got his shoe color wrong. Maybe they thought it was some other man’s DNA in her mouth. Maybe they thought she wasn’t bloodied and battered enough to really have been assaulted.
Perhaps, though the victim was consistently called clear, concise and unflappable, someone on the jury just thought she was being overly dramatic when she said Perry demanded a sex act, and when she pleaded that she did not know how he said, “Do it, or else I’ll cut your throat.”
Whatever the reason, and whether it was one juror or more, a mistrial means and a new case on that charge would have to start over from scratch.
Sentencing took place last month after Perry was found guilty on three felony counts, while a mistrial was declared on the fourth. Judge Jennifer Dorow sentenced him to 17 years of confinement, 13 years of extended supervision, and 10 years of probation.
Dorow clearly did not buy the defense’s claim that the victim lied about the sexual assault and told Perry at sentencing there was “absolutely no doubt in my mind that you were attempting to do that.” She sentenced him to 15 years on the sex offender registry.
Perry was sent to Lincoln Hills.
Will Perry Face Rape Charges Again?
There will be a hearing on October 9 to determine if another jury will be convened to try Perry on the sexual assault charge.
Perry will be just 33 when he is released to finish his sentence in the community on extended supervision and probation. Someone who could sexually assault a great-grandmother at 14 will be even more dangerous – to women of any age – at 33. A conviction on the sexual assault charge would protect the public for many years more by keeping him behind bars, and consideration for public safety, not to mention justice, demands the prosecution takes the case before another jury.