A former Texas prison employee accused of a being a serial rapist who targeted older women told jurors Monday that he was sexually abused as a child and has been visited by aliens.
Billy Joe Harris testified in his own defense after prosecutors rested their case earlier in the day. His attorney argued that Harris, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, suffers from multiple personality disorder.
The 54-year-old Harris is on trial for the alleged Jan. 8 rape of a disabled woman in Edna, about 100 miles southwest of Houston. Authorities allege that DNA samples also link him to five other assaults or attempted assaults over two years in Central and Southeast Texas.
Harris, dubbed the "Twilight Rapist" because most of the attacks happened just before dawn, has charges pending in those cases.
During his testimony, which included graphic accounts of alleged abuse by a former teacher and bestiality, Harris often stuttered and paused, and once jumped out of his seat after removing earplugs stuffed in his ears. Harris' attorney, Alan Cohen, has said the earplugs help Harris "keep the voices from speaking to him."
But Jackson County District Attorney Bobby Bell described it as a "circus." Bell suggested Harris' reaction after removing his earplugs had been staged by Cohen, though the defense attorney said "that was no staged demonstration."
Cohen has said Harris has two other personalities, including one known as "David the dog."
Harris wore handcuffs and chains in the courtroom, as well as a belt that works like a Taser. District Judge Skipper Koetter ordered the restraints because of Harris' history of disruptive behavior in court since his arrest. Koetter threatened to use the belt on Harris if he continued to be disruptive during his testimony.
As he testified, many of the jurors did not look at Harris as he gave often graphic testimony. He also told jurors he had been having an affair with the disabled woman he is accused of raping.
Harris told the jury that he had been abused by his sixth grade teacher and her husband in Houston when he was 12 or 13 years old. He told jurors he was forced to wear a dress and makeup and have sex with his teacher and watch as she had sex with a dog.
Harris said the abuse led to him having sex with animals throughout his life.
"At that time, there still was segregation. They didn't believe me," Harris said of the alleged abuse. "My mother got upset, they moved us out of the school."
Harris said he and his mother moved with his grandmother in East Texas but that he met another older woman there, who also sexually abused him.
Harris said that when he served in the U.S. military in Germany, he had contact five or six times with aliens. He claimed the aliens removed part of his genitals.
Investigators found evidence of careful planning at the many crime scenes, including cut phone lines outside homes.
One of the victims, a 66-year-old woman, was attacked twice despite moving across town following the first assault. The attacks rattled so many women that older volunteers at a Yoakum library in Southeast Texas began locking the doors during business hours, and organizers at one community meeting gave away pepper spray as door prizes.
Harris worked in several prisons around the state, mostly in food service. Background checks before his hiring revealed no prior criminal history, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.