Soules Says Autry Fought Back, But Couldn't Stop Attack

Published: Mar. 11, 2005 at 4:04 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 18, 2005 at 11:17 AM EST
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(OWENSBORO, Ky.) -- A man who has pleaded guilty to the killing of a Western Kentucky University student told investigators that Lucas Goodrum raped the student for more than 30 minutes before killing her.

Jurors saw videotapes Thursday of Stephen Soules' statements to investigators made before Soules was charged in the killing of 18-year-old Melissa Kay "Katie" Autry. Soules said in the interview that Autry couldn't hold off the attack by Goodrum.

"She was fighting, but there wasn't anything she could do," Soules told investigators.

On the tape, Soules denies committing the attack and setting the fire by himself. When asked if he raped Autry, Soules said he was forced to.

"(Goodrum) wanted me to try to cover up what he had done," Soules told Warren County Detective Kevin Pickett.

Goodrum is accused of murder, rape, sodomy and arson in the death of Autry, who was found beaten, raped and burned in her dorm room May 4, 2003. She died three days later from third- and fourth-degree burns.

Soules, 21, pleaded guilty in 2004 to taking part in the murder in exchange for not facing the death penalty. As part of the deal, Soules agreed to testify against Goodrum.

Pictures of Autry taken at the emergency room after she was set on fire in her Western Kentucky University dorm room were shown to jurors Thursday.

The photos brought tears to the eyes of at least one juror, who wiped her eyes after seeing the four photographs of Autry's body, which was covered in third-degree burns from her neck to her knees.

The video tapes were played by defense attorneys, who continued to cross-examine Soules on Thursday.

During the two-hour interview, Soules told Pickett that he didn't find it strange that Goodrum showed up at Autry's dorm room, even though he had never heard Goodrum talk about Autry and had no idea why Goodrum came to Autry's room.

"I didn't know if they had knew each other," Soules told Pickett. "I didn't think it funny he showed up. That's just Luke."

The videotape also showed Pickett asking Soules what he would say to Autry's family if he could talk to them.

"It was not my fault and I'm sorry. I know my 'sorrys' can't bring her back," Soules told Pickett. "She won't ever have to go through nothing like that again."

While watching the interview Thursday, Soules kept his head bowed, and often covered his face with his hand.

Defense attorney David Broderick questioned Soules about inconsistencies between Soules' testimony and his three taped statements, and statements and letters Soules has made or written since his arrest.

Soules said he suspected someone of going through his belongings in his cell, and so he wrote things that weren't true in the letter "so if they try to turn it in to get time out (of their sentence), they'd look dumb."

Emergency room physician Lee Carter testified that Autry's left eye was swollen shut and her groin was extensively burned, making it difficult to insert a catheter when she arrived at Vanderbilt University Hospital about 6:20 a.m. that morning.

"I thought basically she was already dead, but her heart was going," Carter testified.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)