By Ryan Gonzales
On December 14, 2016, Judge David Rosenberg presided over the preliminary hearing of the People v. Tony Deweese, Jr., Mr. Deweese is being charged with two counts of rape.
Foremost, the People’s first and only witness was the complaining witness, known as “SM,” who would not testify unless the court accepted an agreement to grant her immunity from self-incrimination. Judge David Rosenberg accepted the agreement and the examination of the witness began.
“Have you used any illegal drugs in last 24 hours?” asked Deputy DA Robert Gorman, who is representing the People in this case. SM testified that she had taken a needle injection of methamphetamine approximately 24 hours before the court hearing. However, she informed the court that she was not feeling any effects of the illegal substance and had an independent memory of the events that occurred on October 28, 2016.
Mr. Gorman then inquired if SM had kown the defendant prior to the incident, and she testified that she had only met the defendant on the day of the incident behind a thrift store in Woodland. When asked what she was doing behind the thrift store, SM explained that they were with a group of people, but she and Mr. Deweese were talking and looking at his laptop. Furthermore, the prosecution asked if any illegal drugs were taken at this time, to which she responded no.
After the meet up at the thrift shop, SM testified that she and Mr. Deweese left and ended up at an abandoned building across the street from the courthouse. Mr. Gorman then questioned whether there were any illegal drugs used at this location, and SM told the court that she saw Mr. Deweese inject meth, however, she testified that she did not take any drugs.
The prosecution then inquired if she was alone with the defendant, and SM testified that there was another male and female with them at the time.
Eventually, Mr. Deweese and SM ended up alone with each other at the Cookie Company store on Main Street, the scene of the incident.
“You are going to get what you been asking for,” quoted SM, when Mr. Gorman asked if Mr. Deweese said anything to her. SM then asked the defendant what Deweese meant by that statement, and she told the court that he said, “You need to get f*****.”
While charging her phone on the opposite side of Mr. Deweese, SM testified that she told him that she had been with the same guy for 20 years and she wasn’t going to do anything. However, the defendant and SM were homeless, so Mr. Deweese proceeded to make a “bed” for them by laying out a blanket and pillow.
SM then testified that, at some point after making the bed, Mr. Deweese had exposed himself and began sexually assaulting her by “inserting his fingers” inside her vagina. When Mr. Gorman inquired what happen next, SM told the court that the defendant began taking off all her clothing and proceeded to rape her.
“I was crying a lot, yelling no and fighting him,” said an emotional SM.
After the alleged assaulted ended, SM told the court that Mr. Deweese left, which she saw as an opportunity to escape. She testified that she ran from the scene and called her friend to pick her up. When she told her friend what happened, SM was taken to Woodland Memorial Hospital then transferred to a Sacramento hospital for a sexual assault exam.
Mr. Gorman concluded the direct examination by asking SM how many times times she told the defendant no, and she responded, “At least 20 times.”
During cross-examination, which was conducted by Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira, SM testified that her husband had kicked her out of the house in September of 2015, and she had fluctuated between being homeless and off the street since then.
Ms. Sequeira then inquired what she was doing prior to meeting up with Mr. Deweese at the thrift shop. SM testified that she was at her boyfriend’s apartment, with two other people, injecting meth.
Ms. Sequeira, puzzled, asked SM if she was referring to the husband that kicked her out, to which she responded no. Even though they are not together, SM told the court that she is still married to her husband, therefore still recognizes their relationship. However, she had been dating and staying at her boyfriend’s apartment.
When asked what made her leave the apartment, SM explained that someone in the building called the police in the belief that someone had broken in. The police came and removed SM from the apartment and took her to the police station.
Ms. Sequeira then questioned if she lied to the police. SM testified that she had a warrant for a failed court appearance in connection with the illegal use of methamphetamine, thus she gave the police a fake name.
Eventually, she was released from police custody because a friend called the police department stating she had the right to to be in apartment, however, she was unable to return.
When Ms. Sequeira inquired why SM was unable to return, she told the court that her boyfriend had been incarcerated, so the police would not allow her to stay there until he was released from jail.
SM was once again homeless and testified that it was dangerous to be alone on the streets. Thus SM always made sure to be with someone she knew. However, the defense questioned why she would stay with Mr. Deweese if she had barely met him the day of the incident.
She testified that she was with her female friend the entire time until they arrived at the abandoned building, when she decided to stay with him.
“So you weren’t scared of him?” asked Ms. Sequeira. “At the time, I wasn’t,” responded SM.
Ms. Sequeira then questioned why SM would follow a person she barely met into a gated-off building. She stated that a couple told Mr. Deweese that there was electricity at the Cookie Company and she needed to charge her phone, so she decided to go with him.
When questioned if the defendant ever forced SM to come to the makeshift bed, she stated that she was scared of what he was going to do, so she simply walked over. The defense asked why she would do that, and SM responded, “Because he wanted me too.”
This statement prompted Ms. Sequeira to respond, “Ma’am you wanted to have sex with him willingly?” SM exclaimed, “No!”
Judge David Rosenberg concluded the session by declaring that there was sufficient evidence to hold Mr. Deweese accountable for the accusations, and the pretrial conference will be held on December 29, 2016.