They were linked by random acts of unspeakable violence — what prosecutors summed up Tuesday as “a nightmare committed by a monster.”
Tuesday, for the first time, Nicky Patten and Hallie Hudson met. The survivors sat in the third row of the courtroom, directly behind the man who had broken into their homes and raped them at knifepoint: Brandon Weathers.
As a clerk read the guilty verdict, Patten hugged Hudson. The two dabbed away tears.
Weathers stood up and flashed a smirk.
The women were unfazed.
“It would have been better if he would have showed or felt some type of remorse, but we know that he did not and does not,” Hudson said after the verdict. “I’m so happy that justice has been served.”
“It feels good,” she said, “just knowing that he will never be able to harm anyone again.”
This time, for the first time in the slow, sordid sojourn that is the Weathers case, justice was swift. Jurors deliberated just 35 minutes before finding Weathers, 41, guilty of four counts of first-degree sexual assault for the sadistic rapes of young black women from 2002 to 2004.
The comeuppance had been a long time coming in a case that had terrorized northeast Omaha, vexed Omaha police for years and haunted the four women.
Weathers — a man court officials have called a “doughboy” for his droopy eyes and pudgy, 5-foot-5 physique — struck once in 2002, then three times in 2004.
However, it would take a decade and a half for Weathers to be identified as the serial rapist who stalked and terrorized the four women.
One reason: Weathers had found an easier path to rape — he became a foster father and began repeatedly raping his foster daughter, who was 12 when the attacks began.
The other reason: After he was convicted of the rape of the foster child, Weathers refused to give a DNA sample, as required by state law. Then The World-Herald exposed the fact that state prison officials failed to collect DNA from Weathers and more than 70 other Nebraska prisoners.
Suddenly, Weathers was in the helpless position of his victims. That is, his consent didn’t matter.
When law enforcement officials arrived with a court order to collect his DNA, Weathers squirmed and refused to submit.
Authorities bound him, held him down, forced open his mouth and swabbed a Q-tip against his cheek to collect DNA.
Turns out, there was a reason for his refusal: The DNA connected Weathers to the vicious attacks of the four women.
Patten and Hudson — who were both in their early 20s at the time of the attacks — and the other two women, both 17 at the time, took the stand and, in excruciating detail, testified about the worst nights of their lives. How a masked man — later identified as Weathers — startled them awake. How he bound and raped them. How he lingered in their homes as he terrorized them. How the ensuing years were dotted with angst and anxiety as they wondered if he would strike again.
Little did the women know: Weathers had moved on to become a foster father. In 2013, unbeknownst to his then-wife, he started corrupting a 13-year-old girl. He then raped her repeatedly, impregnating her.
At trial in that case, he represented himself — suggesting with a straight face that he had used a syringe to inject his semen into his foster daughter because she wanted to get pregnant. A jury deliberated 90 minutes before convicting him — and a judge sentenced him to 100 years in prison.
At this trial, Weathers left his defense to his attorneys, Assistant Public Defenders Korey Taylor and Yvonne Sosa. Taylor pointed to what police didn’t have — any victim or witness identification of Weathers.
But Brenda Beadle and Erin Hurley, prosecutors in both the foster daughter and the serial rape cases, focused on what prosecutors had: DNA evidence in, or on, each victim. They urged jurors to “bring justice to those who have waited so long — way too long.”
“In the end, it’s always about the victims,” Beadle said. “It took a lot of courage for them to testify like they did, after all these years.
“It’s a long time coming. He’s an evil, evil person.”