By Esmeralda Figueroa and Taite Trautwein
Trial Resumes for Man Accused Of Rape
By Esmeralda Figueroa
On Wednesday morning, the trial reconvened for Elmer David Rodriguez.
Another ex-girlfriend of the defendant took the stand Wednesday morning. Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Susz began by establishing the times and dates the witness spent with the defendant during the month of February 2017.
According to the witness, she and the defendant were in a committed relationship during the time the alleged incident occurred. Text message records shown to the jury indicated that the defendant and the witness were supposed to spend Valentine’s Day together.
However, according to the witness, during the evening of February 14, the defendant claimed he couldn’t make it due to domestic violence classes he had to attend.
The witness became upset because the defendant had ruined another memorable moment for her, as he had during Thanksgiving of 2016. The witness then alleged that the defendant showed up to her home
later on that night to drop off flowers and chocolates.
Attorney Susz then asked the witness if she was aware that the defendant was with the victim in this case during the early hours of February 14 and after he left her home, and the witness replied, “No.”
The witness claimed she had an idea the defendant was cheating on her because she had discovered several photos and videos of women on his phone.
The witness testified that, during the course of her relationship with the defendant, he was never physical with her. However, the witness testified that the defendant was easily upset over insignificant matters.
Ms. Susz asked the witness why she had submitted text message transcripts to Sacramento Police Department after the defendant was arrested. The witness testified that the defendant had asked her to print them out from his laptop that was at her home.
According to the witness, the defendant specifically instructed her to print out the text messages that “made him look good.”
Susz then asked the witness, “Do you still love the defendant?” The witness replied, “Yes.” Then, “Do you still keep in contact with him while he is incarcerated?” And the witness replied, “Yes.”
“Are you still in a relationship with the defendant?” The witness replied, “No.” The witness testified that she was no longer in a relationship with the defendant because he gave her a sexually transmitted disease which she became aware of after his incarceration.
During June of 2017, the witness wrote the defendant a letter indicating the relationship was over, however, she still continued to visit and keep in contact with the defendant.
Ms. Susz then asked the witness if the defendant had instructed her on how to act and what to say during the trial, and the witness indicated that, in fact, the defendant did instruct her. The witness claimed the defendant had told her, “Wear your big girl pants … don’t appear weak during the trial … I want the jury to believe you.”
Susz played two audio recordings for the jury where the defendant was instructing the witness to call his defense attorney and instructed the witness on how to act during the trial.
The trial will reconvene this afternoon at 1:30 in Department 11.
Rape Trial Sees Testimony from Defendant’s Ex-Girlfriend and Brother
By Taite Trautwein
The trial of Elmer David Rodriguez, a man accused of domestic abuse, torture and rape, resumed Wednesday afternoon. Two witnesses who had firsthand interactions with the accused took the stand to give their side of the story.
First to the stand was an ex-girlfriend and friend of Rodriguez, who fielded questions from Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Susz of the prosecution.
Susz began her line of questioning by referring back to a phone call that had been played out for the jury during the morning session. The audio consisted of an angry Rodriguez berating the witness for giving over his phone’s passcode to the district attorney.
When asked if the phone call bothered her, the witness said it did not, as she believed the defendant “had a right to be mad.” She also claimed that it was typical for Rodriguez to call her derogatory names when he was upset with her. She claimed that, despite the phone call, she still wanted to be in contact with him.
Her wish was granted when the defendant called her from prison a few weeks later, a call that was played for the courtroom to hear.
During the call, the witness could be heard apologizing to Rodriguez, with Rodriguez responding, “I don’t take anything back.” He went on to say, ”You helped the DA more than you helped me.”
Despite the nature of the treatment by the defendant, the witness still claimed to love Rodriguez and said she would like to see him out of custody.
Following this, Susz concluded her line of questioning, allowing Deputy Public Defender Monica Brushia, representing Rodriguez, to take over in cross-examination.
Upon responding to Brushia’s questioning, the witness described a normal sex life with the defendant, and said she never felt pressured at any point of their relationship. She said that Rodriguez was her first boyfriend, and they did not have sex until seven months into the relationship. She also claimed the defendant had never physically harmed her over the course of their relationship.
She did, however, describe one occasion where the witness had scared her. She detailed a party where Rodriguez had been drinking heavily that ended with him threatening the witness’ family and slapping himself in the face. She claimed that on the drive home he got so aggressive that he broke the rosary that hung from her rear view mirror.
When asked why she continued to remain with Rodriguez despite the aggression, the witness stated, ”I know the real him. That is just an act that he puts on because he doesn’t want to get hurt.”
When asked why she remains friends with Rodriguez after discovering that he cheated on her multiple times, the witness stated that he “never made her feel alone.”
Brushia also repeatedly had the witness stress that she had never been physically abused by Rodriguez.
Following the witness’ testimony, Judge Timothy L. Fall dismissed the jury briefly to raise some concerns to the attorneys. Those concerns were that, due to the multiple correspondences the witness had with Rodriguez leading up to the trial, the situation was approaching witness tampering.
The proposed solution to this put forward by Judge Fall was for a criminal protective order to be placed on Rodriguez, preventing him from contacting the witness. The prosecution immediately agreed, while the defense claimed that it would be a good idea but asked that the witness be consulted.
Judge Fall responded concisely by stating that the witness’ “thoughts on the matter are, frankly, irrelevant.” He went on to say that the contact between Rodriguez and the witness “drastically affected the nature of the evidence.”
A six-month protective order was thus placed for the witness, preventing Rodriguez from having any contact with her, or vice versa.
The next witness called to the stand was the half-brother of Rodriguez, as well as the former roommate of the alleged victim.
With prompting from Susz, the witness talked of initiating contact with Rodriguez via Facebook after the two had grown up separately from one another. He said that, outside of one in-person meeting, the two did not spend much time together.
Independent from this meeting, the witness met the alleged victim, Rodriguez’s girlfriend at the time, through working together at a Sacramento ice rink. The witness described that they developed a friendship that eventually led to their moving in together as roommates.
Eventually, Rodriguez joined them at the residence following his release from jail for previous crimes.
The witness described the relationship between his roommate and his half-brother as “on/off” and “abusive at times,” citing bruises he had seen on her body.
The witness described a strained relationship with his half-brother, as he felt the defendant disapproved of his being homosexual. He described a dinner they had in which Rodriguez constantly pestered him about women, with the witness drawing the conclusion at the end of the night that the defendant was not okay with the witness being gay.
The witness described another meeting with Rodriguez, in which they met for lunch and he brought along another girlfriend who was not his roommate.
Eventually, according to the witness, the alleged victim broke up with Rodriguez, which resulted in his breaking one of her bongs before moving out. However, the witness claimed they reconnected two to three weeks later.
After they got back together, the witness claimed that he did not see his roommate very often, as she only visited their residence once or twice a month.
Finally, he described one last incident involving Rodriguez and his girlfriend coming to the witness’ apartment late at night and waking him up. The witness claimed that Rodriguez got physical with him, grabbing him by the neck and pinning him against the wall.
The witness alleged that Rodriguez was asking him questions about his girlfriend’s previous partners. The girlfriend, the alleged victim in this case, was present at the time and had a busted open lip according to the witness.
During cross-examination, the witness stated that he never actually saw Rodriguez physically abuse his girlfriend, having only seen the woman’s bruises.
The trial of Elmer David Rodriguez will reconvene tomorrow morning in Department 11 of Yolo County Superior Court.