A San Mateo County jury took little time this afternoon before rendering Maurice Banks guilty of five criminal counts related to a December 2010 beating and attempted sexual assault of a young woman in a Redwood City motel room. Closing arguments were completed this morning in San Mateo County Superior Court on day six of the criminal trial of Banks, 47, a Redwood City transient.
The jury, comprised of 10 women and two men, began deliberations around noon today. Banks was found guilty of five counts — intent to commit rape while in the process of a burglary, residential burglary, committing a felony assault, attempting to force oral copulation and felony indecent exposure. He faces 14 years to life when he is sentenced on Sept. 20, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Banks was arrested in connection with an early morning assault on a woman who had rented a room next door to Banks at the Garden Motel at 1690 Broadway.
Prosecutors said the victim had rented the room at the motel to quietly study for upcoming final exams. Prosecutors allege that Banks broke into the woman’s room through a small window early the morning of Dec. 4, 2010, and severely beat her in his attempt to rape her. The victim, referred to in the case as Jane Doe, was assaulted so savagely that her eye orbit bones were fractured and she will likely suffer from permanent vision impairment. The victim called 911 just after 4:30 a.m. to report the assault, and Banks was arrested hours later.
The victim said that after she saw the intruder, whom she identified afterward as Banks, she tried to run from the room but was grabbed from behind and thrown on her bed, according to the prosecution. She claimed that the attacker punched her numerous times in the face and choked her until she lost consciousness. When she came to, her pants were around her knees and he was standing over her demanding oral sex, prosecutors said. The victim was able to sprint from the room and report the crime.
In court today, Deputy District Attorney Ivan Nightengale used a projector to show the jury a picture of the victim’s swollen and discolored face during his closing argument this morning. “Look at her face — he pummeled her mercilessly and for no good reason except that he wanted to have sex with her,” Nightengale said.
In addition to bruising and swelling, Nightengale listed Jane Doe’s injuries as a fractured orbital floor, bilateral nasal fracture, and permanent vision impairment. “Thiscase is not a whodunit,” Nightengale said. “There is so much DNA in this case showing exactly who did it.” Nightengale said Banks’ blood and DNA were found in the victim’s room and that a T-shirt found in Banks’ motel room contained Jane Doe’s blood. “Jane Doe’s testimony and hard scientific evidence show that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Nightengale said.
A bespectacled, clean-shaven Banks wore a blue dress shirt with a crimson striped tie in court this morning. He was quiet, sitting expressionless and hunched to the right, resting his cheek on his right hand with his eyes fixed on the jury for most of the closing arguments. Defense attorney Jeff Hayden called the prosecution’s case against his client “riddled with cognitive bias.” He said there were at least 16-17 reasons for the jury to have reasonable doubt.
Hayden said he believes conclusions were made that were based on bias, leading police to simply grab the wrong guy. Hayden brought up expert testimony by defense witness Celia Hartnett, who on Tuesday disputed the prosecution’s claim that a boot print left at the crime scene matched boots owned by Banks. Hayden said today, “I’m not Johnnie Cochran but if I were, I might say, ‘If the boot don’t fit, you must acquit.'” Banks will be sentenced on Sept. 20 in Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert’s courtroom.
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