Sexual assault trial set for phony fireman captured in Memphis

NEW YORK (AP) - On Halloween 2005, prosecutors say, Peter Braunstein dressed in full firefighting regalia - but his outfit had nothing to do with the holiday.

Instead, the freelance writer used the get-up as a ruse to enter the Manhattan apartment of a former co-worker who was then stripped, bound with duct tape and sexually abused for 13 hours, according to prosecutors.

Opening statements are expected Monday in the bizarre case. Before the jury was seated last week, state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber made two key rulings: First, he barred most of the statements Braunstein made to police after his arrest on a Tennessee college campus.

Second, however, he allowed the prosecution to introduce journals found in Braunstein's backpack when he was taken into custody after six weeks on the run.

Prosecutors say the journals present Braunstein as a calculating criminal who lied to his probation officer just a week before the attack.

In the case's latest twist, Braunstein's attorneys claimed he was physically unfit for trial because of three skull fractures.

The trial was ordered to proceed on April 18 after prosecutors questioned the severity of his injuries, and reported that jail guards claimed the wounds were self-inflicted by Braunstein smashing his head into a cell sink.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)