Posted on December 22, 2010

6 Defendants to Be Tried in Richmond CA Rape Case

Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, December 21, 2010

A judge sent six men to trial Tuesday in connection with the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside a Richmond High School homecoming dance after a prosecutor said the victim had been punched, kicked, sexually assaulted and urinated on “like she wasn’t even human.”

However, Judge Gregory Caskey released the youngest of the seven defendants in the case, 16-year-old Cody Smith of San Pablo.

Caskey said the lead investigator in the case had interrogated Smith in violation of his Miranda rights two days after the incident, {snip}.


The other five defendants still face up to life in prison if convicted.

The judge made his decision after four weeks of preliminary hearing testimony in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez that was often graphic and disturbing.

At issue was whether the girl–a Richmond High student whose blood-alcohol level was found to be more than four times the state’s legal driving limit–was forcibly raped or simply set upon by opportunistic men, and whether the key witnesses, most of whom allegedly took part in the attack, could be trusted.


New argument

Complicating matters was a new argument made Tuesday by the attorney for defendant John Crane Jr., 44, of Richmond, whom police connected to the alleged rape only through a cold hit in a DNA database. Because no witnesses put Crane at the scene, attorney Dustin Gordon contended, it was clear that Crane and the girl had sex hours earlier.


Dueling arguments

During closing arguments, Morales’ attorney, Ernest Castillo, echoed the views of other defense lawyers when he said the victim willingly “drank herself into a state of unconsciousness.” Castillo said the girl was beaten but was not forcibly raped, because the blows were “not used to overcome her will.” Instead, he said, the violence was gratuitous.

Cashman [Senior deputy district attorney Dara Cashman] sharply disagreed, saying the defendants had held the girl and beaten her.

“From the time someone screamed, ‘Let’s do a train,’ everyone there lost their humanity,” Cashman said.

 Students by Ethnicity  This School  California School Average
% American Indian n/a 3%
% Asian 12% 8%
% Hispanic 72% 39%
% Black 14% 9%
% White 2% 36%

[The figures given are the ones that were shown in October 2009, when the rapes occurred. The school today has a larger Hispanic population.]