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Accused Roanoke Greenway attacker's trial underway

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A man accused of abduction and attempted rape of a jogger on the Roanoke River Greenway is on trial in Ronaoke City Circuit Court.

Alexander Billow will now have a bench trial after waiving his right to a jury trial on Thursday morning.

He is accused of exposing himself to a woman while she was jogging on the Greenway back in August. The prosecution decided to drop the attempted rape change and pursue abduction with the intent to defile.

The defense moved to strike the charge, but the judge denied the request. The defense argued that "defile" shouldn't be applied in this case because it should be limited to serious sex acts like sodomy, forced intercourse or penetration.

The defense also argued there was nothing in the commonwealth's evidence that showed specific attempts to sodomize or force intercourse/penetration and that the suspect didn't remove his pants or the victim's pants, meaning there was no restraint and no weapon.

During Thursday's hearing, a witness, who was riding on the Greenway, testified that he saw the suspect running away from the area on Bennington Street where the Shell gas station and laundry mat are sometime around 7 or 7:30 Sunday, August 9. He said he saw the woman crying and gave her his phone to dial 911.

An officer testified that he was called for a "rape in progress" and took the woman's testimony and searched for the suspect.

A detective testified that he set up a meeting with the suspect, Billow, and ended up taking him into the police station to give a statement.

A written statement, read in part, said that the suspect was doing laundry and decided to walk to the bridge along the Greenway. While walking, he "got an urge" and began to masturbate. Then he saw a woman running and "got an urge" and tried to grab her breasts. She stated screaming and he ran away.

The defense said that the  the abduction with intent to defile charge should be amended down to sexual battery, because the commonwealth's evidence supports sexual battery.

The commonwealth's attorney argued there was restraint when the suspect grabbed the woman's breasts, regardless of how long he was touching her and that restraint isn't limited to a certain amount of time and it can be momentary.

The judge will now take both side's arguments under advisement and a new court date will be set in a few weeks.

Police said Billow has a history of similar offenses. According to online court records, he has been charged with exposing himself to a child, obscene exposure in public and grand larceny for incidents that happened in May and July of last year.

In 2007, he was convicted of attempted abduction for grabbing a woman and sexually assaulting her in the parking lot of a store.

He was also convicted of two charges of indecent exposure in 2009.