By Minerva Melendrez
ANAHEIM – On Thursday, Detective Duran testified against defendant Pharrell Habib Scorza, who faced multiple counts that include kidnapping, corporal injury on a spouse, and sexual assault by a foreign object.
During his testimony, the detective recalled that when initially interviewing the alleged victim, he had noticed a burn mark near her eye, bruises on her legs, and dried blood by her ear.
Asking the victim about the cause of these injuries prompted her to recount multiple instances of physical abuse and sexual assault at the hands of her husband, whom she had been attempting to escape from for some time now.
Furthermore, Duran revealed that in 2004 Scorza had been convicted and sent to prison for domestic abuse issues similar to those he currently faces felony charges for. Duran stated that, according to the victim, the only difference between then and now is that the situation is far worse.
District Attorney Elizabeth Nevers further questioned Duran regarding the nature of the victim’s physical marks by asking him to specify the context and manner in which Scorza had caused these.
Referring to the night of May 5, 2020, Detective Duran disclosed that the defendant had kidnapped the victim by inciting fear. He forced to leave her children in the care of her 18-year-old son, and the victim obeyed Scorza, who demanded she get in the car with him.
Detective Duran stated that the victim and the defendant left around 10:30 p.m. and drove throughout the night, not returning until early in the morning. By then, it was already time for the kids to start getting ready for school.
In terms of the burn mark on the victim’s eyelid, Duran informed Nevers that these were the result of a torch lighter that the defendant had been using to smoke methamphetamine.
“She was trying to sleep, but he had burned her to keep her awake,” remarked Duran. Before that, Scorza had hit the victim with a metal tumbler to prevent her from nodding off, which explains the blood the detective had seen near her ear.
Duran cited multiple instances in which the victim expressed wanting to flee from the defendant that night. She had been searching for police the entire car ride, hoping she would be close enough to officers to plead for help; at some point, she even considered jumping out of the moving car to escape.
It was also noted that there were times before that night where the victim had tried to report her abuse. However, the fear she had surrounding her husband’s behavior deterred her from doing so. Apparently, Scorza had threatened to kill the victim and go after the family as retaliation for getting police involved.
Rivers then directed Duran’s attention to other indications of bodily harm he had noticed. These included poke marks on the victim’s body caused by darts, a fishing-type knife the victim had retrieved from his tackle box, screwdrivers, and other miscellaneous objects Scorza used as weapons.
This led to a discussion about the details of a sexual assault incident that occurred in February of 2020.
The event took place in their bedroom in front of their youngest child; he was around six years old and appeared to have been sleeping at the time. According to Duran, the defendant had forced himself onto the victim without her consent, telling her that she was “going to take it because that was a debt she needed to repay.”
He even threatened to get a “train ran on her,” which the detective defined as “having several men line up and just have sex one right after the other.”
Duran continued and said that Scorza grabbed a red Angels mini bat, making the defendant get on all fours with her clothes off before assaulting her.
He emphasized that the victim had been crying throughout the assault, begging Scorza to stop. The defendant responded by telling her to “shut the f*** up and stop crying” because that was what she deserved for the pain she had caused him.
In the cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Michael Mooney questioned Detective Duran about how the victim managed to make the police report. He had the detective confirm that the victim had reached out to a friend via text yet deleted it immediately after, fearing the abuse that would ensue if Scorza was to find out.
Mooney then referred back to the night when the victim was kidnapped and highlighted how she had never told her husband that she did not want to get in the car with him.
Duran stressed that “she was in fear that if she didn’t go, something was going to happen.”
“But he didn’t physically force her in the car, correct?” responded Mooney. Detective Duran confirmed that Scorza had not used physical force.
The public defender then retraced the various locations the defendant and the victim had gone to throughout the night of the alleged kidnapping; these include a McDonald’s, a 7-Eleven gas station, and a drug deal meetup.
Mooney had Duran confirm that at none of the locations did the victim attempt to leave or alert somebody. This caused Detective Duran to re-emphasize how fear of Scorza’s threats discouraged the victim from taking any action.
Mooney then proceeded to ask if it was a more general fear toward the defendant that had led the victim to get into the car or whether it was in regard to a specific threat made during that night.
“All leading up from the head in the pillar, to the Coke cans in the face… from what I got, that was her general fear of ‘if I don’t go I’m going to have more abuse,'” said the detective.
After making a final note regarding the defendant’s methamphetamine use, Detective Duran was dismissed from the witness stand.
Judge James E. Rogan then ordered a recess until Monday morning at nine o’clock.
Minerva Melendrez is a third-year student at UC Davis double-majoring in Political Science-Public Service and Psychology. She is originally from Pittsburg, CA.
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