Emotionally charged testimony marked the opening day of the trial of a Rome man accused of beating one man to death and raping a woman, purportedly over a small drug debt.

John Robert Mostiller is accused of severely beating Joseph Dye Sr. at the Royal Inn on Martha Berry Boulevard on June 27, 2018 over a small drug debt. Dye died two days later in a local hospital.

Mostiller was arrested by deputies June 29, 2018 and charged with aggravated battery and later with felony murder and rape.

Dye’s son, Joseph Dye Jr., testified Monday that Mostiller supplied both him and his father with drugs around the time of the crime. He said his father asked him to take him to “the rooms” sometime after midnight on the morning of June 27.

“The rooms” was what they called a trio of motels — the Cottis Inn, the Royal Inn and what was then the Fairbridge Inn — along Martha Berry Boulevard where they frequently purchased drugs.

He refused his father’s request twice because he had to get up early the next morning to go to work and if his mother found out it would lead to an argument.

But, according to Assistant District Attorney Leah Mayo, Dye Sr. called a cab and went to the Royal Inn where he was confronted by Mostiller. Prosecutors said he struck Dye Sr. in the face, causing him to fall back onto his head and sustain a severe cut.

Defense attorney William Mills said that Mostiller helped load Dye Sr. back into the cab, which took him home.

Cindy Cooper, the mother of Dye Sr.’s three children, testified she woke up and saw Dye Sr. sitting on the edge of the couch watching television.

“He looked at me and smiled,” she said.

The next morning she was awakened by her son screaming, He’d found his father slumped over on the couch foaming from the mouth and unresponsive. Dye Sr. was taken to Floyd Medical Center, where physicians later indicated he was essentially brain-dead and told Cooper and Dye Jr. about the laceration to the back of his head.

Dye Jr. testified, at that point he put the things together and made Facebook Messenger contact with Mostiller. Dye Jr. testified that Mostiller told him, “Yeah I got (him) last night. I told you I’d get him.”

In her opening statement, Mayo said the whole incident was over a $20 drug debt.

In another incident, two weeks before the beating death a woman testified that Mostiller had raped her after demanding money. The woman, who was another member of the Dye family, said Mostiller was her drug supplier and told her that “Joe” owed him.

Mostiller forced his way into her room, she testified, and began to shuffle through some of her belongings. She pulled out $20 and gave it to him then asked him to stop and leave.

He didn’t leave and kept on being verbally abusive, she testified, then pushed her onto the bed and raped her.

She did not initially report the rape because she knew she was wanted on a probation violation and she didn’t want to go back to jail.

During cross-examination, she admitted she waited nearly a year to make the report because she was afraid no one would believe her. But, she testified, in the process of her recovery from drug addiction she decided the only way to recover fully was to get it all out.

Testimony will continue Tuesday before Floyd Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach.

Recommended for you