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Nurse recounts victim’s memories and injuries

on November 19, 2010

One of the last recollections of the 16-year-old victim of an alleged gang rape before blacking out was of someone holding a bottle of brandy to her lips so she couldn’t stop drinking from it, a sexual assault examiner testified in the preliminary hearing on Thursday.

Anamaree Rea, a licensed nurse and sexual assault response team coordinator at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, said she and a colleague conducted an interview and a complete head-to-toe emergency medical exam of the student the day after the assault—just hours after she regained consciousness in John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

On the stand yesterday, Rea unfolded the girl’s story as told through the interview and through the cuts, bruises, and swelling on her body.

Rea testified that the girl was in too much pain to carry out certain parts of the exam. “She was feeling pain all over,” said Rea. “She complained of everything hurting.” Rea said she was unable to conduct an exam of the girl’s mouth because it hurt too much. Rea also said she couldn’t insert a speculum to do a vaginal exam because of the girl’s pain.

A county sheriff's deputy directs traffic as a van transports the case's two juveniles, Cody Smith and Ari Morales, back to the juvenile detention center.

Rea recounted that during the hospital interview the student said she was bored with the dance and went outside to call her father for a ride when a school friend—identified as defendant Cody Smith—called her over. She began drinking brandy with Smith and four other males at one of the picnic tables in the courtyard. She remembered standing up, getting dizzy, and then falling down, said Rea.

The very last thing the student remembered was someone picking her up, said Rea. After that she didn’t remember anything, “until she was at the hospital with a tube down her throat.”

Police later found the girl bruised and unconcious under a picnic table in the Richmond High courtyard.

In addition to conducting the interview, Rea said, she photographed all of the girl’s visible injuries.

Rea flipped through a thick stack of photographs—provided by District Attorney Dara Cashman—and methodically described each injury one-by-one: severe swelling to the left side of the face; broken blood vessels above and below the right eye; a mark of the ear lobe imprinted on her upper neck which Rea said was caused by blunt force trauma.

Defense attorneys objected to the witness’s descriptions of the photographs, saying that the photos spoke for themselves.

Cashman broke in, “She’s describing injuries and certain kinds of injuries and I think she absolutely needs to describe that to the court.”

Judge Caskey allowed Rea to continue.

The pictures were not shown to people who were in the courtroom observing the hearing. Rea described the photos as she looked at them: an abrasion on the left ankle; redness and swelling in the left knee with abrasions going from left to right on the knee; and multiple abrasions on her back showing debris, redness, and swelling, including two sets of scrape marks going in different directions–one to the left shoulder and one to the right shoulder. A picture of the student’s anus, Rea said, showed debris and foliage.

Rea testified that of the five men, the student knew two by name: Cody Smith, whom she described as a white-Mexican school friend; and Elvis—someone she had just met. The other three men were unknown by the girl, but she identified one as a 21-year-old Mexican.

Cody Smith, 16, and Elvis Torrentes, 23, are two of seven suspects who’ve been charged in connection with the rape and beating of the student. The others are Ari Morales, 17, Marcelles Peter, 18, Jose Montano, 19, Manuel Ortega, 20, and John Crane Jr., 43.

All except Torrentes face life sentences if convicted.

The preliminary hearing, which will determine if the defendants will go to trial, continues today with the cross-examination of Nurse Rea.

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