Accused rapist to face trial
A 19-year-old accused of raping a 16-year-old girl will face trial.
Dylan Weatherwalk slouched in his chair at the defendant’s table in Magisterial District Judge Ben Jones’ courtroom on Wednesday as Altoona police Detective Sgt. Terry Merritts outlined the evidence police have against the teenager.
Weatherwalk’s ex-girlfriend said he choked and raped her the night of June 30 after the pair argued while hanging out with some friends.
Weatherwalk, who was wearing Blair County Prison orange, put his head down on the table throughout his preliminary hearing on a dozen charges that include felony rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and other sex crime charges as well as felony strangulation, prompting Merritts to reference his posture when he was asked to identify Weatherwalk as the defendant for the record.
“He’s sitting at the defense table and it appears as though he’s sleeping,” Merritts said, pointing to Weatherwalk.
“I’m not sleeping,” the shackled Weatherwalk responded as he sat up.
Weatherwalk’s public defender, John Siford, tried to raise questions about the allegations, specifically that Weatherwalk carried the girl against her will 13 blocks — from a home on the 2700 block of Sixth Avenue to a home on the 4000 block of Fourth Avenue — before he allegedly raped her and kept her from leaving until the next morning.
“And that entire time, he supposedly has her over his shoulder,” Siford asked the detective.
“That’s what she indicated,” Merritts said.
Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith objected when Siford asked if she was kicking and screaming as Weatherwalk carried her, but Judge Jones overruled.
“She indicated she was protesting but didn’t put up much of a fight because she had just been choked,” Merritts testified.
Merritts said the girl said Weatherwalk had been verbally and mentally abusive during their relationship, and after the alleged rape, she “was afraid to go against him due to being choked earlier in the night.”
Merritts said the girl told a forensic interviewer at the Blair County Child Advocacy Center after the alleged rape that she and Weatherwalk dated for about a year, but she broke up with him in May because he was unfaithful.
They had mutual friends they were hanging out with on the night of June 30, and the girl said she was going to give him a second chance, but when she saw on his cellphone that he had been communicating with other females, they started to argue.
Merritts testified the argument escalated to the point that Weatherwalk broke both their phones and at one point strangled the girl until her eyes glazed over. He allegedly told her he wished she would kill herself and wished she would get hit by a bus before telling her she was going to have sex with him that night “whether she liked it or not.”
Weatherwalk allegedly confessed to police that they had sex but said it was consensual. Merritts testified Weatherwalk also admitted he solicited and received naked pictures from the girl and that he sent her naked pictures of himself.
Merritts also testified that when he tracked down Weatherwalk the day after the alleged rape, Weatherwalk asked him, “Is this about the broken phones?” despite the detective never telling him why he wanted to talk with him.
Following testimony, Siford didn’t offer any arguments and said he would leave it to the discretion of the court as to whether there was enough evidence against his client to send the case on for further proceedings.
All charges were held for Blair County Court by Jones, and Weatherwalk was remanded to jail where he is being held in lieu of $150,000 cash bail. His next court appearance is slated for Aug. 23.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.