As the preliminary hearing in the gang rape of a Richmond teen entered its eighth day, District Attorney Dara Cashman attempted to establish a timeline of events for the night of October 24, 2009, outside the Richmond High homecoming dance.
Cashman continued to question Detective Ken Greco, who returned to court on Monday for his third day of testimony. Cashman asked for detailed accounts from Det. Greco (now retired from the Richmond PD) about his interviews with suspects Ari Morales, 17, and Manuel Ortega, 20, in an attempt to determine when and where the assaults occurred.
Det. Greco testified that, according to Morales’ account, Ortega had repeatedly struck the 16-year-old student in the head as she screamed for help. Then she was dragged around the outdoor part of the Richmond High campus from one area to another.
Det. Greco testified that Morales had said, “I seen a couple of dudes, and then I seen her.” Morales went on to say, “I didn’t feel anything. I just looked away and continued drinking my Four Loko,” referring to a beverage that–until a recent FDA warning–contained both caffeine and alcohol. Both Ortega and Morales were described as not willing to volunteer information easily, and especially reluctant to give out information about others.
Yet defense attorneys continued their attempts to poke holes in the account given by defendant Morales. Attorney Mary Carey–representing 19-year-old Jose Montano–pointed out that Morales first described a friend who attended the homecoming dance called “Toofer” as a “tall, light-skinned dude.” In later descriptions, Carey pointed out that Morales described him as a black man, and at another point as a tall, skinny Mexican. It was unclear if “Toofer” was present at the scene of the assault or not.
Also testifying was Officer Peter Martin, one of the Richmond Police officers on duty the night of the attack. In his twenty-minute testimony,Martin described collecting evidence from Manuel Ortega for the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) kit. Martin described Ortega as “aggressive,” “intoxicated” and “belligerent” while officers gathered evidence for the SART kit.
Detective Smith of the Richmond Police Department is expected to testify when the hearing continues on Tuesday, November 30th. The hearing will take place at the Contra Costa Country District Court in Martinez at 9:00am.