(Delmarvanow.com) -- The jury trial of convicted child molester Khalil Muslimani on child rape charges from incidents dating to the 1980s got underway Tuesday morning in Virginia Beach.
The court entered a plea of not guilty on Muslimani's behalf to two charges, after he refused to enter a plea.
The Accomack County case was moved to Virginia Beach for trial after a judge ruled in favor of a defense motion to change the venue.
The trial's start was delayed for more than an hour after Muslimani apparently complained of a medical emergency, but he entered the courtroom around 10:40 a.m., using a wheelchair and dressed in a sport jacket and slacks.
The jury of seven women and five men heard opening statements by Accomack County Commonwealth's Attorney Spencer Morgan and defense attorney Tucker Robinson before the lunch break.
Morgan told the jury evidence presented during the trial will show Muslimani in summer 1986 "had multiple sexual contacts with his stepdaughter," who was under age 13 at the time.
He said he plans to call eight witnesses, including the victim, her mother, two law enforcement officials, a retired social service worker and two forensic specialists.
DNA evidence will show that the victim bore a child fathered by Muslimani when she was 13, Morgan said.
"You'll hear how that child was conceived ... through a repeated pattern of sexual assaults by her stepfather," he said.
Robinson reminded the jury that Muslimani is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof is on the prosecution.
"You are going to hear a lot of testimony," he said, noting the testimony could involve recollections going back decades.
Robinson said the defense does not expect to offer any evidence at this point.
"The commonwealth's case is based largely on recollections," Robinson said.
Morgan called six witnesses Tuesday afternoon, including two forensic scientists, law enforcement officers from Maryland and Virginia and a retired social worker.
Gail Walker who was employed at the time as a family services specialist with Child Protective Services in Accomack County, testified she first had contact with Muslimani in August 1989, after the agency received a referral.
She went to his home in Chesconnessex, near Onancock, and interviewed him about his relationship with his stepdaughter.
"We talked about it in depth," she said, adding Muslimani "was quite candid; he admitted having sexual intercourse with her" and also to being the father of two children in the home.
The sheriff and four deputies accompanied Walker that evening, she said.
"On that night, we removed all the children from the home — all seven of them," she said.
The next day, Walker returned for another interview with Muslimani, who she said admitted he gave his then-wife, the alleged victim's biological mother, money and gifts in return for having sex with her daughter.
Upon cross-examination, Walker said the interviews were not recorded and she did not prepare a statement for Muslimani to sign.
Lt. Anthony Bright of the Accomack County Sheriff's Office and retired Lt. Gerald Goga of the same agency testified about evidence collected in 2015 from Muslimani, his ex-wife Ruth Ann Carpenter, the alleged victim and her son, after the alleged sexual abuse in the 1980s was reported to the Sheriff's Office.
Goga traveled to Miami, Florida to collect a swab for DNA analysis from the son, and to Louisiana to collect similar evidence from Carpenter, he said.
He also interviewed Muslimani at his home on March 19, 2015.
"He said he had moved to Accomack County from Maryland in April of 1986," Goga said.
Where the son was conceived — in Virginia or Maryland — was questioned by the defense. Goga testified that Muslimani told him the alleged victim moved to Virginia with the rest of the family members sometime later — in May or June that year.
"It was the following February that (she) had her first child," Goga said.
Forensic scientists testified that DNA and statistical analysis showed the person listed on that child's birth certificate, the women now known as Ruth Ann Carpenter, was not the biological mother, and that her daughter has a great statistical probability of being his mother.
Analysis showed Muslimani likely is the child's father, according to the testimony.
Carpenter and the alleged victim are set to testify when the trial continues Wednesday.
Muslimani, of Onancock, is already serving two life terms plus 20 years for sexual crimes against another family member.