By Susana Jurado
SACRAMENTO – With a double charge of kidnap and rape, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette Wednesday ruled that the bail of a former Uber driver should be set at $1 million, despite strong protestations of the defendant’s attorney.
Qin Yang was arrested on August 27 at about 11 a.m. on a rape allegation that entailed the Uber driver-defendant driving the victim a few blocks away from the victim’s house and then having sex with her in the backseat of the car.
According to the district attorney’s office, the victim and her friend ordered an Uber ride for a double drop off. Cell phone towers captured their Uber driver-defendant, driving them to the victim’s residence first and later, marking the ride as complete.
But the victim never left the car.
Instead, said the DA, Yang continued driving to drop off the victim’s friend, who wanted to be dropped off at a residence in the Sacramento State area. However, he did not drop her off there; he left her in the middle of the Sacramento State campus and she walked almost a mile to get to her residence.
The victim stated to authorities that she had no recollection of driving to her house the first time and going to Sacramento State University. She just assumed she and her friend would be dropped off at her house.
The criminal defense attorney, Dan Olsen, wasn’t yet in the courtroom, but Judge Marlette began the bail hearing anyway by directing his attention to the Deputy District Attorney Terri Ann Grimes.
Grimes discussed with the court that the criminal defense attorney was a new lawyer on Yang’s case, who wanted to readdress the matter of bail, since it had been raised to $1 million.
Eventually, the criminal defense attorney entered the courtroom, and told the court he wanted to be heard on bail.
“Yes, your Honor, I believe that it is appropriate to address bail because it was set without prejudice. Mr. Yang had a stand-in attorney the last time,” argued Olsen, “There were new charges added and I believe the court said that it would be set without prejudice. Bail was raised to a million dollars, [but] the bail schedule is $150,000 for a rape case.”
According to the defense, surveillance footage captured the victim in the front passenger seat of the car while the Uber driver defendant was dropping off her friend. The criminal defense thus noted to the court, “So she’s not just passed out the whole time. Her BAC levels were actually fairly low 0.12 by blood, which is obviously a DUI level, but not quite blacked out [and] passed out in the backseat of a car [when the incident occurred].”
The defense also spoke and reflected on Yang’s reputation as they highlighted his clean record and his marriage with 2 kids, explaining Yang’s immense embarrassment of this incident, especially in dealing with his wife.
“He is a resident of the area. He works, he is employed. He’s not a flight risk. He’s not a risk to the community either and he has no chance to do something like this again,” maintained Olsen, adding, “He is not in any position of trust and so I think that if rape is set at $150,000, and if we have to take the charges as true, than 150,000 is the right amount.”
The criminal defense attorney emphasized on the extreme level of raising bail, “…obviously we have things to argue about the rape on whether it was consensual or not but going up to a $1 million dollars…something he cannot afford, he does not make enough money to pay that and so I would say that that $150,000 is the correct amount.”
Judge Marlette, then, turned to the deputy district attorney for her argument.
DDA Grimes said the case entailed much more than a rape charge, that it was a kidnapping with the intent of committing a rape, therefore warranting a bail schedule set at $1 million, deeming it appropriate.
The district attorney said the second charge was kidnapping because of the defendant’s deliberate action to mark the ride as completed without ever letting the victim leave, as verified through video footage.
“There is video on the victim’s phone that she turned over to law enforcement,” argued. “You can’t see anything on the video because it’s dark, but you can hear her asking ‘why am I not home? How come you haven’t taken me there?’”
The DDA also disagreed with the criminal defense attorney’s representations of the victim’s alcohol levels, placing emphasis on the timing of the tests as she stated, “With regards to her BAC, she was 0.12 at the blood draw start exam, however she is first taken to the hospital where her urine is collected and the test on the urine, she’s a 0.16 and this this is at least an hour and a half to three hours after she’s in the presence of the defendant. So, this clearly shows that she’s coming down off of her intoxicating level.”
The district attorney further continued to stress Yang as a risk to the community because despite Uber firing Yang, the complaint against him did not stop him from signing up for another ride share, shortly after.
Additionally, the DA spoke on issues about his immediate access to other victims and the extremities of the offense, explaining that these reasons gave good cause for the bail to be set at $1 million.
However, defense attorney Olsen interjected and pointed out that Yang’s time as an Uber driver was positive, with a number of years of experience and without any complaints from former passengers.
“The fact that there’s a video that shows her in the front seat and I think there is a mix-up between the two drop offs,” said the criminal defense attorney. “The Sac State drop off or her drop off. At one point the ride was canceled by the user and so he had no idea where to keep going.”
The criminal defense attorney continued to argue on behalf of his client, stating that there was “…confusion in the case, I think that if we are going by the facts being true, it’s a standard rape case which has a standard bail amount and I think that is appropriate.”
“These crimes can be committed in a number of ways and given that these are strangers, given that there is a position of trust, that he was picking her up as a Uber driver I’m going to make his bail a million,” ruled Judge Marlette, “What it takes to accomplish what he’s charged with accomplishing is remarkable.”
The next hearing will be set on October 7 at 1:30 in the afternoon in the same Sacramento Superior courtroom.
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