An attorney for one of two 17-year-old boys accused of kidnapping and raping two teenage girls in a dark Rancho Peñasquitos park told a jury Monday that police coerced a false confession from his client and prosecutors lacked evidence tying the defendant to the crime.
Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick countered that defendant Leonel Contreras told police and his family that he was involved in the brutal attack and that DNA and other evidence proved he was guilty.
Patrick said there wasn't anything police did to illicit a false confession from Contreras.
"There's nothing about it that indicates it was false," the prosecutor said in her closing rebuttal argument.
Contreras and co-defendant William Steven Rodriguez. also 17, are being prosecuted as adults on 21 counts, including rape, sodomy by force and kidnapping. A jury hearing the case against Rodriguez reached a verdict last week, but it won't be announced until the Contreras jury reaches a verdict.
Deliberations in the Contreras case will begin tomorrow.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Michael Begovich said the case had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
"This is the highest standard of proof that we have," Begovich told the jury.
The attorney said testimony from a woman who was with Contreras the night of Sept. 3, 2011, proves he wasn't at the rape crime scene.
Begovich also said there was no DNA linking his client to the sexual assaults.
"My client wasn't there," Begovich said, suggesting that Rodriguez met up with some other Latino male after spending the day with Contreras.
Begovich said one of the alleged victims failed to identify Contreras as an attacker.
After a 3 1/2-hour interrogation, detectives "broke" Contreras and got him to admit to something he didn't do, Begovich told the jury.
But Patrick said everything the alleged victims said corroborates what Contreras told police in his confession.
She said Contreras couldn't be excluded as a contributor of DNA found on a Padre shirt worn by Rodriguez the night of the attack.
Jane Doe 2 said she and Jane Doe 1 were attacked after 8 p.m. as they sat under a tree during a walk from a family party on Spindletop Road.
The teen said the assailants took her and her friend up a slope and into a dark grassy area. She testified that she struggled with the man who held her -- who she identified as Contreras -- and bit him. He responded by putting a bandana in her mouth, and "said if I tried to scream he would hurt me," the girl testified.
Jane Doe 2 said Contreras raped and sexually assaulted her -- holding a knife to her neck -- then switched partners with Rodriguez, who committed the same sex acts against her. The witness said her attackers switched partners again and continued the sexual assault.
She said the sexual intercourse with both assailants was painful because she was a virgin.
Patrick said the defendants were staying at Rodriguez's aunt's house nearby when they attacked the girls.
After they were caught, Contreras told police that he and Rodriguez initially set out to rob someone, but changed their plans were they saw the girls, the prosecutor said.
-City News Service