SAN FRANCISCO – “[The victim] became aware she was being raped when she woke up to find Enrique Saucedo-Zepeda penetrating her with his penis,” Assistant District Attorney Lailah Morris argued as she opened the trial alleging two counts of rape on an unconscious woman, and by the use of drugs or alcohol.
The victim, the ADA would tell the jury, had consumed four or five beers and two shots of tequila as she attended a party hosted by the defendant, a friend and co-worker with the victim’s boyfriend.
Ms. Morris argued that the victim had consumed this alcohol, grown sleepy and either fell asleep or passed out on a bed in the bedroom. She had started having sex with her own boyfriend in the bathroom, but stopped when there was a knock at the door. They went into the bedroom but stopped when they became aware other people were in the room.
The party occurred in May of 2014. the victim was the only female at the party which had about eight or nine people total and occurred from about noon to six in the evening.
When the victim woke up, she objected to the defendant having sex with her and the defendant at this point pulled out and runs out of the room.
The victim and her boyfriend left the party, but at 2 am, she called her boyfriend and at this point told him what happened. The next morning the boyfriend called Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda and confronted him. He reportedly apologized and claimed that he was drunk.
In the meantime, the victim discovered wetness in her body, and decided to get the morning-after pill, then went to the police and received a medical exam.
They then set up a pretext call. At first Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda denied the attack, but then he claimed to have been drunk, and said that he messed up and apologized. Most importantly, according to the prosecution, he admitted penetration.
At this point, Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda bolted town. He left his apartment and job without a word and moved to Fresno.
It would take another three years before the San Francisco Cold Case Unit, Special Victims Team, tracked him down in Fresno and brought him back to San Francisco.
Ms. Morris introduced two other pieces of critical evidence during her opening statement. First, that DNA found in the victim tracked to the victim and two males, one of whom was her boyfriend and the other was Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda.
Second, when he was arrested and Mirandized, Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda made a statement which again admitted to having sex with the woman while she was unconscious.
The defense, represented by Deputy Public Defender Eric McBurney, presented a different version of events.
He acknowledged there is a full confession by his client that he had sex with a sleeping woman, but he noted that Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda admitted to things that could not have possibly been true. For example, that he was wearing a condom while having sex—when we know that could not have been the case.
In the defense version, she was in bed with the defendant, they were making out, and her eyes were open and they were undressed from the waste down. At this point she said to stop, and he complied.
The defendant claimed that they stopped when the victim changed her mind. The victim and her boyfriend then left the party.
When he talked to her the next day, he apologized—thinking it was consensual and a mutual act—saying he was drunk. She then told him she was calling the police.
He didn’t understand why she would want to call the police.
Mr. McBurney argued, “They had sex—it was nothing criminal.”
Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda tried to correct the statement. At the time of the incident, Mr. Saucedo-Zepeda was living with his uncle. According to Mr. McBurney, the uncle told him that he was putting everyone in danger and that he needed to leave.
The move to Fresno, then according to the defense, was an attempt to leave the situation and not put the rest of the house at risk.
In the conclusion of his opening statement, Mr. McBurney argued that “he said yes even to things that couldn’t have been true,” the only two people who know what happened were the two people in that room and he proclaimed his client “innocent” and implored the jury to find him not guilty of the crimes as charged.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9