By Linhchi Nguyen
ALAMEDA – A judge here in Alameda County Superior Court has dismissed a defendant’s charge of an alleged rape in 2012 after finding “the record riddled with meaningful inconsistencies” and “changes in the story.”
The 44-year-old defendant, Stevon N. Williams, beat one of his charges relating to the alleged rape case that occurred in Berkeley, California. He was arrested on May 11, 2020, after DNA evidence linked him to this case, along with another rape case that happened only a mile away in 2009.
Neither women, referred to in court as “Jane Doe 1” and “Jane Doe 2,” had ever met their assailant, according to the police. Neither testified during the preliminary hearing directly, but their statements came in through the testimony of Berkeley Police Officers.
After listening to various testimonies the past three days of Williams’s preliminary hearing, Judge Amy Sekany came to the conclusion last Friday that there is not sufficient evidence to convict the defendant for at least one of those cases, the one that happened in 2012.
“When establishing probable cause, this court is in charge of looking at the entire record,” Judge Sekany emphasizes. “And when I consider all the evidence regarding that, I found the record riddled with very meaningful inconsistencies, as well as changes and changes in the story…which impacted the credibility of the evidence tremendously.”
For one, Sekany points out the inconsistencies in Jane Doe 1’s story, in which the victim first testified that she was assaulted from a male being on top of her, and “then, her story changes to ‘he was behind.’”
Sekany added that “there are issues surrounding the fact that she wanted to call her boyfriend, yet her boyfriend was on the scene before they even made the call.”
Even the police report made by the Berkeley Police Department seemed be conducted under “suspicious circumstances,” suggested the judge.
According to Jane Doe 1, Williams allegedly kidnapped her at knife point between the area of San Pablo Avenue and Grayson Street as she was walking from a check cashing business “somewhere either at 8 or 9 p.m. However, there was evidence that the business closed at 7 p.m.
Among the litany of issues, Judge Sekany stated that “one of the biggest things that stood out in this course of mind was that Jane Doe, in her initial description of the assailant, was very clear that he had a very large scar that reached from the top of his scalp to the bottom of his jaw bone.
“The way it was put, it strikes me as nothing short of a deformity, to be quite frank,” the judge continued. “It’s a very significant descriptor, if you will.”
Yet, when Jane Doe identified the defendant in a lineup, Sekany indicated that “at no point was there any mention of a scar.” Judge Sekany herself didn’t notice any scar on Williams’s face, and Assistant Public Defender Omid Khalilnaji confirmed that his client does not have one. There was neither any written indication of a scar, although the entire lineup lasted for about six or seven minutes.
“There’s just nothing about this scar,” Judge Sekany commented.
Due to these serious inconsistencies, Sekany concluded that she is not holding the defendant to answer the counts relating to the alleged 2012 rape.
However, Williams might still be expected to answer on the 2009 rape case.
For that particular incident, which occurred on Nov. 29, a woman was raped near Sacramento and Parker streets in Berkeley. According to the victim, she was grabbed by the hair and punched in the face several times. After getting sexually assaulted, she was then robbed of her purse and cell.
Jane Doe 2 from the November 29, 2009 incident told police that she met the suspect on a phone dating network while working as a prostitute in 2009. Jane Doe 2 met with the suspect via phone and after meeting in person and conversing about the exchange of money, the suspect then committed the alleged sex acts.
The police later identified Williams as a suspect and obtained a warrant for his arrest. When asked how the case came to be solved after so many years, the Berkeley Police Department declined to respond.
In May 2020, Williams was sleeping in a tent in San Francisco when the police found him and arrested him at the spot. The district attorney’s office also charged Williams with a number of special allegations which would increase the penalties against him if he were convicted.
But Judge Sekany ruled that “those allegations will be discharged.”
At the end of the hearing, Judge Sekany ordered the parties, including the defense and the Deputy District Attorney Maya Ynostroza to return to the Alameda courthouse in Dept. 702 on Feb. 5 for an arraignment at 9 a.m.
*Correction original article listed the wrong defense attorney and prosecutor.
Linhchi Nguyen is a fourth year at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and English. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.
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