By Tiffany Yeh
Another witness for the prosecution testified today. She was doubtful about certain words in the report that the nurse practitioner wrote after YX’s exam, specifically the words “forceful anal penetration.” She disagreed with the wording. She described that part of the findings as “not typical” and said that she felt like it should not have been part of the evidence.
The next witness was Sergeant Ariel Pineda, who was a detective at the time. After the first portion of his interview with YX, he and YX took a break. YX needed an emotional break, along with a drink of water. The second portion of the interview held right after the break largely corroborated what YX had testified to in court. She mentioned that her friend, Vil, was with her at the party too.
Later, when describing the alleged rape, YX described her attempts to struggle and kick. She could not move her arms because her arms were underneath his. She described her attempts to scream but could only groan because of the pain in her vaginal area. After he turned off the light in the room, later, he asked her what was wrong, what happened, and touched her hand.
YX only identified the man as Lang Her when he looked at his phone and the light from the screen illuminated his face. When asked if she wanted to mention anything else to the detective, YX said that she remembers Lang Her saying that he likes to drink with her because “you’re so down to drink.” Before the second portion of the interview was played in court, the judge gave the jury the instructions that the prior recounting of the events was “hearsay” and should not be taken into account.
During the cross-examination of Sergeant Pineda, Defense Attorney Christopher J. Carlos asked questions that brought out that Mr. Pineda had not recorded any of his conversations, on the phone or in person, with Lang Her.
There seemed to be some dispute as to whether Mr. Pineda disclosed that it was an investigation into alleged sexual assault when he left messages for Mr. Her on his phone. Mr. Pineda talked to Mr. Her about two times, and met him once it seems. This is in contrast to the seven to nine times Mr. Pineda made contact, on phone or in person, with YX.
In addition, Mr. Pineda said that he had not talked with YX about the facts of the case after the investigation. The last time he talked to her was around August of 2015, and only to tell her that the case was moving forward. DDA Zambor and Mr. Carlos took interest in the distance between Lang Her’s apartment and YX’s house/apartment. Mr. Pineda said that the distance was not less than a mile.
Interestingly, during the extended afternoon break, Mr. Carlos asked for a mistrial on the basis that two search warrants for Lang Her had been mentioned by witnesses, as well as a “questionable,” according to him, picture. His reasoning was that mentioning search warrants could bias the jury into thinking the defendant is a criminal and guilty.
DDA Zambor countered, saying that two different witnesses had mentioned the same search warrant in passing. She explained that the officers were following procedure when filing for a search warrant before taking Mr. Her’s DNA sample, and mention of the search warrant did not mean that Lang Her was guilty.
Mr. Carlos’ dissatisfaction with the photo had to do with his interpretation of the photo as a booking photograph that would make jurors presume guilt. The picture was of the defendant holding a placard with his info on it. DDA Zambor said that it was not a booking photograph and that the picture had been folded in half when it was shown to the jury, so that they could not see the placard in the first place. The judge denied defense’s motion for a mistrial.
Mr. Carlos originally planned to have five character witnesses testify today. It was interesting that the judge asked him to present only four of those witnesses, on the basis of DDA Zambor’s mentioning that the witnesses were all essentially saying the same thing. The judge mentioned Evidence Code section 352 regarding unnecessary consumption of time as additional reasoning.
Mr. Carlos mentioned People v. Harris as a case supporting that character witnesses could be presented in court even if the defendant’s character was not being attacked. DDA Zambor agreed with that portion. However, the witnesses could only represent their own opinion and not recount specific incidents from the past.
Originally, Mr. Carlos planned to have witnesses testify that Lang Her was not a “sexual deviant.” He cited People v. McAlpin, a California molestation case from 1991 involving character witness testimony for the defense, but the judge stated that the lay people could not testify about sexual deviancy when they were not trained or experts in a field regarding that. The judge did not allow lay people witnesses to discuss “sexual deviancy” in their testimonies.
The defense then presented some of their witnesses. The first character witness was Chao Her, Mr. Her’s older cousin. He has regular contact with the defendant, around 10-20 times per year. He has observed Lang Her on dates and with girlfriends and has not noticed any improper conduct or unusual behavior on Mr. Her’s part. He stated that he thought Lang Her was a good person. At banquets, Lang Her was described as not behaving unusually around women. He described Lang Her as honest and truthful.
Witness #2 was Rinna Her, Lang Her’s older brother. Their ages are about nine years apart. Rinna was with the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department before. Now he is a police officer at a college. He currently lives with Lang Her and has daily contact with him. Rinna Her is married, with kids. He said that he thinks Lang Her is truthful and honest.
Similar questions were asked of this witness about his opinion of the defendant’s behavior around women in the witness’ presence. Rinna Her described Lang Her as only having been with a few girlfriends so far. Rinna Her had set Lang Her up with a relative of his wife – she was his first girlfriend and they had been together about two years. He stated that, yes, he trusted his brother enough to introduce one of his wife’s relatives to him as a love interest.
Witness #3 was Tony Yang, a friend of Lang Her’s since kindergarten. They were at the same high school for the first two years also. He was there at the same party on May 9, 2012. He said that he fell going up the stairs but did not notice anyone else falling down drunk or passed out on the couch. He left the party early, around 11pm. He described the party as fun, with people laughing, and no one passing out. Mr. Yang said he thinks Lang Her is truthful, honest, and did nothing to offend or anything that was inappropriate with women.
The last witness of the day was Pachia Cha. She is currently Lang Her’s girlfriend. They had met and then, after a month, began dating. July is going to mark two years of their being together. She will graduate this June from UC Davis. She is a full time student, works ten hours a week, and thus sees Lang Her twice a week. She said she knew about the rumor about Lang Her.
Ms. Cha said the defendant never did anything sexually inappropriate with her. She believes that Lang Her is truthful and honest and has a good reputation. She had known about the alleged rape charges when she was dating him.
Ms. Cha has never had any hesitations, never been afraid around the defendant, and said that he has not touched or harmed her in any way. She is comfortable around Lang Her, feels strongly toward him, and loves him. Ms. Cha knows and trusts the defendant completely.
In cross-examining all the character witnesses, DDA Zambor asked if they knew whether Lang Her was a good person around others when they were not around. They all separately replied that, no, they did not know what he was like when they were not present.
The trial will resume with more witnesses testifying, at 9am on Monday, May 18, 2015.