By Oliver Camarena
WOODLAND, CA – The trial of Jose Trinidad Perez Meza on sex charges began Friday here in Yolo County Superior Court with an opening statement from Deputy District Attorney David Robbins, while the defense, private attorney Jesse Ortiz, III, reserved from giving an opening statement.
Meza is being charged with two counts of assault with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, or oral copulation; sexual penetration against will; sexual battery; attempted rape by force; assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury, 2nd degree robbery, preventing or dissuading a witness/victim by threat or force; and preventing or dissuading a witness/victim from reporting.
DDA Robbins began the prosecution’s opening statement by explaining the two sexual assaults allegedly committed by Meza were in Santa Rosa in 2018 and then in Davis in 2020.
He noted how the information gathered from the Davis incident helped bring in new evidence linking Meza to the Santa Rosa incident two years prior, a case which had gone cold.
DDA Robbins detailed the incident in Santa Rosa on June 17, 2018. He explained it was late at night. The victim had just showered and gotten dressed when she decided to go out to get dinner. She left her apartment and was walking to her car when she noticed a man that walked in the opposite direction of her once she looked at him.
Following a recent accident, the victim was using crutches to assist her. DDA Robbins said the victim heard footsteps while unlocking the door to her car and was tackled by a man who proceeded to sexually assault her by grabbing parts of her body.
The man eventually got up and ran away after screams from the victim alerted nearby neighbors, said DDA Robbins. Law encouragement never found enough evidence to continue with the case, and it went cold.
DDA Robbins also detailed the Aug 2, 2020, incident in Davis. He said the victim in this incident was walking on a bike path when she was similarly tackled, put in a headlock, and strangled until she lost consciousness.
He told the court that once the victim came to, her cell phone was taken and a man was attempting to pry her legs open saying, “I’m going to f**k you, I’m going to f**k you.”
After her screams for help and pleading for the man to stop, the man stopped, apologized, and grabbed her hand to walk her back to her nearby apartment.
When they arrived, the man gave the victim her phone back and they went inside, where the victim told her male roommate in Chinese to call the police while she made tea for the man to get him to stay longer.
DDA Robbins said the man then got nervous and left the apartment, after asking for the victim’s phone number. Police arrived too late to catch the man but were able to use his DNA left on the cup for tea to trace it back to the accused, who denied the incident.
DDA Robbins noted that in the Santa Rosa case, the police use of geofencing and a key article of clothing—a jacket—that was seen in surveillance footage in Santa Rosa and in Davis when officers looked through the accused’s home, connected the accused to both locations.
DDA Robbins maintained that the evidence provided proves that Meza is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
DDA Robbins then called his first witness, the victim from the Santa Rosa incident. In her testimony, she recounted the day of the incident. She detailed the dress she put on after the shower and how she wore dresses because of the difficulty of putting pants on with her boot cast after her surgery.
She talked about seeing the man for the first time outside her apartment when she was going to her car to go out for dinner and how he turned away once she looked at him.
This prompted DDA Robbins to show her a picture from surveillance footage at the complex in which she positively identified the man in the picture as the same man she saw that night.
DDA Robbins then used several exhibits to detail the apartment complex and its walkways, having the victim follow along with him to identify where each event happened and the route she took to get to her car.
She then started to describe the physical features she recalled the man having, and confirmed hearing footsteps running toward her as she turned around and was tackled.
The victim talked about what the man did and how she tried to resist the forced contact and DDA Robbins used a diagram for the woman to show where the man touched her. She recalled the incident happening in about 10-15 seconds and how the man eventually fled before nearby neighbors came out to the sound of her distress.
During cross-examination, private attorney Ortiz asked the victim if she recalled the lighting during the incident—because it was late at night and he claimed that the testimony she gave describing the features of the man did not match up with what she had told police that night and during following interviews.
During recross, Robbins asked the victim what she felt during her interviews with police following the incident, to which she responded that she was fearful, nervous and had been crying.
He then asked if her English might be worse when she is under duress because her primary language was Spanish.
The next witness called was a detective for the Santa Rosa Police Department, Detective James Page, who explained the use of geofencing in this case, specifically during the time and in the location of the incident, detailing how Google provided certain data that the police could then use to identify devices.