The courtroom drama was intense. On Aug. 15, 1986, Gertrude B. Miller, a 71-year-old white woman, testified about the night she was raped, beaten, and almost murdered by an intruder at her home in Columbus, Georgia, a prosperous city of 200,000 people south of Atlanta.
“I had gone sound asleep and it was then that I realized that someone was right there, on top of me… he turned me over on my back, and he pulled down my nightclothes… he raped me front and back, both, and he hit me on the head… Later on, when he was raping me, he turned the light on so he could see better, the light at the head of the bed.”
That meant, she went on, that she saw his face clearly. The Columbus district attorney, Bill Smith, asked Miller to look around the court and “state whether you recognize the person who attacked you that night.” She pointed to the defendant, an African-American man named Carlton Michael Gary. “That guy right there,” she said.