A man accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old jogger in Summerville told a friend that he planned to “go looking for girls on the bike trail that day” in January, a police detective testified Wednesday.
After he saw a sketch of the assailant, the friend called authorities and relayed that account, which broke the case open, Detective Craig Baker of the Summerville Police Department said. Five days after the Jan. 9 incident, police arrested 20-year-old Michael Glen Evans. Inside a bedroom in his home on Ravenswood Court, officers found a folding knife they said Evans held to the young woman’s throat as he assaulted her on the Sawmill Branch Walk/Bike Trail.
“There were hundreds of tips that came in” after the sketch was distributed by news media, Baker said. “The only one that led to any information, though, was the one from that witness.”
Baker’s testimony about the random daytime attack came during a preliminary hearing for Evans, who is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and possession of a knife during the commission of a violent crime.
The counts carry up to 65 years in prison.
Dressed in striped jail garb and with his hands cuffed together, Evans shook his head as Baker answered attorneys’ questions. Evans’ nodding continued even as Baker paused to consult his notes.
In the gallery, three loved ones of the 17-year-old comforted each other. Two women wept and dabbed their eyes with tissues. Her parents have said that she fears leaving the house.
At the proceeding’s end, Summerville Municipal Court Chief Judge David Whittington ruled that investigators had shown probable cause for further prosecution. Evans’ public defender, Mitchell Farley, offered no motions for dismissal.
Evans had three past arrests on charges of theft of a firearm and marijuana possession.
It was marijuana that he blamed for his hazy memory of the day when the woman was attacked near 1885 Bacons Bridge Road, according to police.
He told Baker and another detective that he had been visiting the friend and former high school classmate on Langley Drive, about a quarter-mile from the crime scene. At some point early that morning, Evans said, he smoked marijuana that might have been “laced with PCP,” Baker testified.
The drug typically causes hallucinations.
During the visit, Evans “made a suspicious comment” to the friend about looking for girls on the bike path, Baker added.
He left the friend’s place riding a dark bicycle and wearing a camouflage jacket, the friend told police. Those descriptors were crucial in connecting Evans with the crime, Baker said.
The woman told investigators that she had jogged past her eventual attacker near the entrance of the Evergreen subdivision, according to Baker. Before long, a bicyclist rammed her, pulled her into the woods at knifepoint and assaulted her.
The woman screamed for help. An elderly man walked up to the commotion, the detective said.
Baker said that the attacker told the man that he was just “messing with my girlfriend.” But the woman yelled that she didn’t know him.
The man scurried off to get help. When a younger man came running to the woman’s aid, the attacker fled, Baker said. In an interview that was not recorded, Baker said, Evans acknowledged involvement in the crime.
“He saw a girl and thought that she looked good,” Baker testified. “He stated that he then pinched her.”
But the woman slapped Evans, Baker said he told detectives. That’s when he said he blacked out, probably because of the marijuana he had been smoking, according to Baker.
Regardless of the suspect’s self-professed lack of consciousness, Baker said, Evans admitted to most of the attack, except certain elements of the sexual contact. Evans had asked the detectives whether his prison time would be lenient if he cooperated, but Baker said the police offered him nothing.
Evans had denied the incident at first and said, “I ain’t got that in me,” according to Baker, but he later said that he was sorry for what had happened.