Friday, October 20, 2006

People v. Ramirez (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 20, 2006)

This is a little bit disturbing (and graphic), especially for a Friday, so read on -- or not -- at your discretion. If you do, however, see if you can accurately guess what the sentence will be for Mr. Ramirez, who was convicted of raping an intoxicated person in the following setting:

"In January 2004, 16-year-old Ana H. was living with her 24-year-old brother in Vista. Their parents lived in Mexico. On January 17, Ana and her friend Adrienne attended a birthday party for a 15-year-old girl. . . . Ana and Adrienne left the party at approximately 11:00 p.m. because some "cholos" (gang members or "tough guys") were bothering them and started to walk to Ana's brother's house.

The cholos followed Ana and Adrienne outside and continued to bother them. Ana and Adrienne came upon a house where they could hear a party taking place. In an attempt to escape further harassment from the cholos, they decided to enter the house. Ana had never been to the home before and did not know anyone at the party. Adrienne knew the disc jockey. After she said hello to him, the girls watched people dancing.

Adrienne met a young man named Omar and started dancing with him. Omar asked Ana how old she was, and she told him she was 16. . . . At around 12:20 a.m., Ana and Adrienne got into Omar's car along with Ramirez and Omar. Adrienne sat in the front seat with Omar, and Ana sat in the back seat with Ramirez.

Adrienne said she was hungry, so the group went to a restaurant in San Marcos. They were at the restaurant for about 30 minutes. Ana listened while Adrienne, Omar, and Ramirez talked. She heard Omar tell Ramirez that Ana was 16 years old.

As the group left the restaurant, Adrienne said she wanted to drink some alcohol. Omar responded that he had some alcohol at his home. The group drove to Omar's apartment. Omar went inside to get the alcohol while the other three remained in the car. Omar brought back a bottle of tequila. The group stopped at a convenience store to buy cups. All four individuals began drinking the tequila in the parking lot of the convenience store. Ana had consumed alcohol on two other occasions, but had never been intoxicated.

Omar did not want to drive because he had been drinking. Ramirez declined to drive because he had "already had problems with the police." Omar suggested that they rent a room at a nearby hotel. The group drove to a Ramada Inn that was less than five minutes away, and Omar rented a room.

The group went into the hotel room and continued drinking. Ramirez asked Ana to come over to where he was sitting, but she declined. After the group finished the bottle of tequila, Omar told Ramirez to go get another bottle. Adrienne told Ana to go with Ramirez so she could be alone with Omar. Ana and Ramirez left the hotel room at approximately 2:00 a.m., after Ana had consumed what amounted to a full glass of tequila.

Ana and Ramirez left in Omar's car and drove to Ramirez's apartment, where he retrieved a bottle of alcohol. Upon their return to the hotel, Ramirez told Ana that they should stay in the car so that Adrienne and Omar could be alone. While they were both in the front seat of the car, Ramirez tried to kiss Ana. She told him that she did not want him to kiss her. He continued to try to kiss her, and she pushed him away. Ramirez became angry when Ana refused his advances. He hit the windshield with his fist, cracking it. This frightened Ana.

Ramirez continued trying to kiss Ana, but she pushed him away. At some point, Ana felt dizzy and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she was in the back seat of Omar's car and Ramirez was moving on top of her with his penis in her vagina. Her bra and blouse had been pulled up, and her pants and underwear were at her ankles. She was dizzy and felt pain in her vagina. Ana reached down to touch her vaginal area. After she did so, she saw blood on her hand and started to cry. Ana tried to push Ramirez away, but he pushed her shoulders down toward the seat and kissed her neck and her breasts as he continued to penetrate her. Ana had not had sexual intercourse before.

Ramirez finally stopped and pulled up his pants. Ana sat up, pulled up her pants and fixed her blouse. She noticed that she was still bleeding and that there was blood on the back seat of the car.

Ana returned to the hotel room, crying. Adrienne asked her what had happened. Ana said that she did not know and went into the bathroom. Ana showered for approximately 10 minutes because she "felt dirty." She was still bleeding when she finished showering. There was blood both in the tub and on a towel she had used. Ana got dressed and exited the bathroom, still crying. She told Adrienne that she wanted to go home. Adrienne told her to calm down. Adrienne said that Omar was going to talk to Ana's brother and tell him that Ana and Adrienne were going to stay at a friend's house. Omar grabbed Ana by the shoulders and threw her on the bed. Ramirez stood in the doorway of the room so that Ana could not leave. Ana cried and begged Ramirez to take her home. Ana believed these events occurred between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Ana eventually got into the car with Ramirez, who was supposed to take her home. As he was driving, Ramirez pulled to the side of the road and tried to kiss Ana again. When she refused to let him kiss her, he told her to get out of the car. Ana walked for a few minutes, but was in a great deal of pain. She sat down and cried. Ramirez returned to where she was sitting and told her to get back in the car. He said that he was "not going to do anything anymore."

Ana got back into the car and fell asleep. The next thing she remembered was waking up in a strange apartment. She was lying in a bed, confused, and did not know how she had gotten there. A little boy and two girls were in front of her telling her to wake up. . . .

At some point, Ana got up and tried to place a telephone call to a friend, but was unable to reach the person. Ana indicated to Guzman that she thought she was in a friend's apartment. Ana commented that the bathroom was "very different" and that the bed was in a different place. Ana was walking very slowly, and was holding her groin area. . . .

Ana began walking, trying to find her way back to the hotel. She was in pain and crying. She walked "very slowly," stopping to rest after every 10 to 15 steps. She arrived at the Ramada Inn approximately two hours after she left Guzman's apartment, some time between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. Adrienne was not at the hotel. Omar had left the key with the clerk at about 8:00 a.m. Ana asked the clerk if she could use the bathroom. While she was in the bathroom, Ana discovered that she was hemorrhaging. The clerk noticed that Ana was crying and that she looked frightened. She was walking very slowly. The clerk called a number of Ana's friends, trying to reach one who could come to pick her up. When he asked Ana if she was okay, Ana responded, "I'm not okay because I've been raped." She told the clerk that "Guillermo" had raped her. Ana did not want the clerk to call an ambulance for her. . . .

Police transported Ana to the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) office at Palomar Hospital for an examination. Detective Tom Janenko noticed that Ana was walking very slowly and that she appeared to be experiencing considerable pain in her groin area. Amanda Jaeger-Jacobs performed a SART examination of Ana at 1:45 a.m. on January 19. Jaeger-Jacobs noted swelling, bruising and "quite a bit" of dried blood on the peritoneum. Ana had a large hematoma that covered the entire side of the labia, and a laceration just beyond the labium. Jaeger-Jacobs noted that the hematoma was a "very significant injury" ─ one she had seen in her work delivering babies, but not on a sexual assault victim. . . . Dr. London was unable to perform a full examination because the hematoma was blocking the entrance to the vagina. . . . Ana testified that she was unable to walk normally for 10 to 15 days. She stayed at Sylvia's home for about a month, and then returned to her brother's home."

Defendant gets convicted of rape of an intoxicated person, but the jury deadlocks on the charge of forcible rape (and acquits on the statutory rape charge). What's the appropriate sentence?

Defendant argues, by the way, that the trial court should have sentenced him only to probation. That's a pretty bold claim, at least in my view. And Justice Aaron rightly rejects it.

The answer, by the way, is six years in prison. Too long? Too short?

There are some pretty egregious facts here. I had a fairly strong emotional response to this one. And it wasn't positive.

That's my thought process for the day. Have a great weekend, all.