Andrew Pace’s first trial ended in a mistrial last month after jury deliberations deteriorated to the point that a juror abruptly asked to leave out of fear for her safety.
PANAMA CITY — For the second time, the case of a Bay County man arrested after a naked and distraught teen was seen fleeing his house is going before a jury.
Andrew Allan Pace, 65, appeared in court Tuesday for the first day of testimony in his second trial. He was arrested May 20, 2016, after Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at Delwood Pointe to reports that a 16-year-old boy had been drugged, tied up and raped in a home of the affluent neighborhood. Pace faces charges of sexual battery, unlawful sexual acts with a minor and false imprisonment.
A previous attempt to try Pace on the charges ended in a mistrial last month after jury deliberations deteriorated to the point that a juror abruptly asked to leave out of fear for her safety. What transpired in deliberations was left unclear, but the outcome gave Pace a chance at another trial.
Prosecutor Jennifer Hawkins opened her case Tuesday by telling jurors that Pace had been pursuing the teen for about a year to instill hopes of a modeling career. Pace had been a recruiter for Marsha Doll Models, a Tallahassee-based modeling agency. In May 2016, the teen agreed to meet Pace to start a modeling portfolio.
The teen “thought he’d found a friend, a confidant,” Hawkins told the jury. “What he found instead — what he walked into — was a nightmare when (Pace) drugged him, tied him up and raped him.”
Hawkins again laid out the case that Pace and the minor planned to meet for lunch, then go back to Pace’s home, where they would take measurements for the modeling agency and drink alcohol. At one point, though, the teen accepted a shot of alcohol from Pace and began to black out, Hawkins said.
“He ends up in (Pace’s) bedroom — how or why he doesn’t understand,” she told the jury. “Then he comes to naked, tied to that man’s bed. His hands and legs bound with (Pace) raping him.”
Pace’s defense attorney, Stanley Peacock, agreed the plan had been to drink alcohol and take measurements to help the minor pursue a modeling career. However, Peacock argued that the teen had an economic motive to frame the financially well-off Pace.
“This case involves a young man taking social and economic advantage of an old man,” Peacock told the jury. “This young man wanted to be a model, to make money. That is the motivation here. That’s what led to all this.”
Peacock also noted blood tests taken from the teen showed he had high levels of alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazpene in his system.
BCSO reported that about 7:30 p.m. May 20, 2016, neighbors in Delwood Point stood in shock as the naked and distraught teen fled Pace’s front door. Rebecca Kildow, one of Pace’s neighbors, was walking back from the community mailbox with a friend that night. As the two spoke, they could see a naked and “hysterical” teenager running from the front door of Pace’s neighboring house.
“He was crying and begging us for help, crouched over and covering his privates,” Kildow said during Tuesday's testimony. “He was so afraid the guy in the white would get him again. He wanted us to hide him.”
After BCSO arrived, officers went to Pace’s house and knocked on the door to retrieve the teen’s clothes. Pace didn’t immediately answer. But when he did, officers recalled, he, too, was naked.
Pace denied knowing the teen at first, but eventually allowed officers to come in to get his clothes. Inside Pace’s master bedroom, BCSO discovered the teen’s clothes on the ground and various ligatures tied to the bedposts, officers reported.
One of the key pieces of evidence the prosecution will be relying on is the victim’s DNA. Moments after arriving at Pace’s home, investigators took swabs from Pace’s body, which later came back testing positive for large amounts of the teen’s DNA.
Peacock countered that Pace had been measuring the minor before going to the bathroom. That was how he got DNA on himself, Peacock said. He encouraged the jury to use “common sense” to determine whether the combination of the victim’s drive to become rich and the substances in his system better explained his actions that day.