General Crime

* Preliminary hearing begins in the Richmond High Gang Rape case

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A police officer who was the first to arrive at the scene of the October 2009 gang rape outside Richmond High School’s homecoming dance testified in a Martinez courtroom this morning that he found the victim unconscious under a picnic table. Police Officer Todd Kaiser was the first person to take the stand at the hearing, which will allow a judge to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. Seven suspects, most in their teens, have been charged in the case.It was the night of Oct. 24, 2009, and the high school’s homecoming dance was under way. The victim, a 16-year-old girl, was helping out with the dance and had been given a walkie-talkie.She was supposed to call her father on her cell phone after the dance ended but never did, Kaiser testified. Her dad became worried and called her phone but there was no answer.Finally, someone picked up – but not the girl. The voice was that of a male, who made sexual comments about the man’s daughter, Kaiser testified.Police responded to the school after receiving a report of a naked girl on the campus, Kaiser testified. When Kaiser arrived at the secluded area of the campus where the rape occurred, he shined his flashlight and saw a group of males scatter. He saw the victim under a picnic table, unconscious, with her dress pulled up, he testified. She had abrasions on her back, he said.He said her skin looked pale and clammy, and he initially thought she was dead. When he shook her, however, she moaned. On the picnic table, he found the girl’s student ID card and the walkie-talkie, Kaiser said. Police investigators said afterward that the girl had been beaten and raped for a period of about two and a half hours, and had also been robbed. In addition to the males who assaulted the girl, as many as a dozen others stood by and watched, police said.The defendants in the case are San Pablo residents Cody Smith and Ari Morales, Pinole resident Marcelles Peter, and Richmond residents John Crane, Manuel Ortega, Jose Montano and Elvis Torrentes.Three suspects who were juveniles at the time of the crime, Smith,Morales and Peter, have been charged as adults.

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