When presented with the many child molestation warrants sworn out against him, Harold B. Cartwright III tried to take his own life using a prison bed sheet, according to court testimony. His attempt failed, and he is now standing trial for the second time on charges he raped girls as young as 4 on a regular basis over the course of decades.
“I was charged with some of the most heinous crimes anyone could think of,” Cartwright testified Wednesday in court. “I'd never heard of someone having that many warrants, even on TV.”
Cartwright, 48, of Trenton, is facing a jury again after his first trial ended in a mistrial with a jury locked at 11-1 in favor of conviction. According to court documents, from 1989 to 2011, Cartwright is alleged to have routinely molested three female victims.
He has denied all charges against him. “No sir, I have not molested them,” Cartwright repeatedly said during his testimony.
Outside of the defendant's testimony on Wednesday, an expert witness said that semen found on one of the victim's bed sheets was Cartwright's and the possibility of it being that of another unknown person was 1 in 16 trillion.
“I'm not a math guy, but 16 trillion?” Assistant Solicitor Kevin Molony asked S.C. State Law Enforcement Division DNA analysis expert Lilly Gallman. “How many people are alive on earth today?”
“Around 7 billion,” Gallman estimated.
“And 16 trillion is bigger than that?” Molony asked.
“Yes, sir.” Gallman said.
The charges contain language that allows for the multiple acts allegedly occurring in that span of time, stating “at diverse times” during the period listed. Many indictments cover a year of conduct that would only truly charge a single act. However, the victims alleged abuse happened “almost every day,” “twice a week,” and “three to seven times a week,” over the course of many years, each victim said on the witness stand during both this and the previous trial.
The victims also testified that Cartwright would use threats against them after the acts concluded and would also buy them gifts.
One victim testified that, as she grew older, Cartwright would attempt to barter cash for sex, but became irate when he was rejected. The defendant also is alleged to have threatened the life of one victim and “busted down” the door of another.
A man said to have been in a relationship with one victim testified that Cartwright threatened to kill him and to “blow up the house and kill all of us,” when he became angry.
The trial continues today, both the defense and prosecution have rested their cases.