By S. Priana Aquino
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has announced that guilty verdicts for seven felony offenses in a rape and sexual assault had been returned by a San Francisco jury.
The jury found that Santana West raped, battered, and threatened to kill a female victim in 2014.
“In the seven long years since this unthinkable act, the survivor has been steadfast in seeing this case through,” said lead prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Courtney Burris.
“She has courageously participated in every phase of this case, including testifying at a preliminary hearing five years ago. It is through her strength and perseverance that justice could be served,” Burris added.
The District Attorney’s Office presented evidence that on Dec. 2, 2014, West approached the victim near Turk and Hyde Street, asking to accompany her home. Though she initially declined his offer, she accepted after West told her that he knew her brother.
The DA said that when they arrived at the victim’s home, West beat, sexually assaulted, and threatened to kill her. Hours into the ordeal, West fell asleep, at which point the victim was able to escape to a neighbor’s home where she called the police. SFPD officers arrived within minutes. An ambulance transported the victim to San Francisco General Hospital shortly after.
The District Attorney’s Office presented the testimony of eight witnesses including the survivor, civilians, law enforcement officers, and medical professionals. The jury heard, and found true, evidence of West committing similar misconduct on a different victim in 2002.
Prior to the trial the defense suggested the prosecution was “offering a life sentence” to West. The defense also mentioned that because West had been imprisoned for four years for the previous rape conviction, it would bring up the issue of recidivism.
In an article from the Davis Vanguard covering West’s pre-trial, reporter Ella Wade writes that Inspector Spencer Gregory testified on his experience visiting the crime scene.
“Once at the Tenderloin police station he [Gregory] met with West, who was in custody. At this point Gregory informed West that he would need to take a penile swab. West asked what he was being charged with, and Gregory replied, “Rape.”
West said, “I didn’t rape anybody. I had consensual sex. Does she look beat up?” That was the last time Gregory and West interacted and Gregory never followed up on the case.
Because Gregory had answered West’s question about what his charge was, the judge mentioned that this could create a potential “Miranda issue…because it can be taken as eliciting an incriminating statement.” But the court decided to wait before ruling on that.
“I want to acknowledge the years of hard work that our office dedicated to successfully prosecuting this violent rape case,” said District Attorney Boudin.
“After many years, I especially commend my team for successfully prosecuting this case at trial and securing closure for the victim despite all of the challenges imposed by the pandemic,” Boudin added.