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Officer Recalls Horrific Details During Testimony in Teen Gang Rape Case

Officer Recalls Horrific Details During Testimony in Teen Gang Rape Case

Three of the alleged rapists are led from court. Six of the suspects face life in prison if convicted [AP]

San Francisco Chronicle via YellowBrix

November 17, 2010

MARTINEZ — The first man arrested in last year’s Richmond gang rape was the essence of belligerence, telling police that the 16-year-old victim wanted to have sex and threatening to kill the officers involved in his capture, a police officer testified Tuesday.

Manuel Ortega, 20, cut loose with a string of drunken expletives and fought with officers when police arrested him near where the girl was raped by numerous men outside a homecoming dance at Richmond High School, Officer Gary Lewis testified.

Ortega loudly insisted he hadn’t done anything wrong and said “that bitch wanted me” to have sex with her, Lewis said.

“He said he was going to stab us all, going to kill us all,” Lewis said. “He was resisting arrest from the moment I contacted him.”

Lewis’ testimony came on the second day of a preliminary hearing in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez to determine whether Ortega and six other men will be held for trial in the Oct. 24, 2009, incident.

Six of the defendants could be sentenced to life in prison: Ortega, who lives in Richmond; Cody Smith, 16, of San Pablo; Ari Morales, 17, of San Pablo; Jose Montano, 19, of Richmond; Marcelles Peter, 18, of Pinole; and John Crane Jr., 43, of Richmond.

The seventh defendant, 23-year-old Elvis Torrentes of Richmond, faces charges including aiding the act of rape that could put him in prison for 26 years.

The hearing before Judge Gregory Caskey is expected to last one to three weeks.


Officer Gunnar Googins

Lewis told the court that he had stopped Ortega after spotting him sprinting south on 24th Street near the Richmond High campus moments after other officers radioed that they had seen as many as seven young men in dark hooded sweatshirts running from the rape scene. Ortega was wearing a gray hoodie, Lewis said.

As he began to question him, Ortega suddenly took off running, the officer testified. He caught Ortega after a 30-yard chase and handcuffed him after wrestling him to the ground.

Ortega, who was drunk, insisted the girl herself was inebriated and wanted to have sex, Lewis said.

He added that Ortega had referred to the victim – called Jane Doe in court proceedings – by her actual first name.

At one point, Ortega told the arresting officers, “Just shoot me in the head, I won’t judge you,” Lewis testified.

The suspect screamed and flailed at the officers the entire time they dealt with him, and said at one point, “I’ve been alive 19 years, and nobody don’t care about me,” Lewis said.

Police who arrived at the rape scene in a courtyard on the north side of the school found the victim, bleeding and vomiting, draped over a bench with her purple dress pulled up above her waist, two officers testified Monday.

One, Officer Gunnar Googins, testified that Ortega said of the victim, “’I just wanted to pimp her out.”

Throughout Lewis’ testimony Tuesday, Ortega and his co-defendants sat impassively – except for one moment. When Lewis stood to identify the man he arrested by pointing at him, Ortega smirked.

Also testifying Tuesday was Joanna Grizetti, a Richmond police crime scene investigator, who became tearful as she identified the photos she took of the victim at the scene.

The photos showed the girl had scrapes on her back, knees and feet, and signs of a probable beating on the left side of her face.

Regaining her composure, Grizetti testified that she had found a used condom, several opened condom wrappers, and pink glitter and vomit alongside a fence several yards from the bench.

The victim’s dress had pink glitter on it, and Ortega had pink glitter on his crotch area, Grizetti testified.

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