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Trial Begins For Alleged Ringleader Of ’08 Richmond Gang Rape, Hate Crime

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Richmond Police Cruiser, patrol car

A Richmond Police patrol car. (CBS)

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — A woman who was beaten, gang-raped and taunted about her sexual orientation in Richmond more than five years ago appeared in a Martinez courtroom Tuesday to recount harrowing details of the attack after opening statements in the trial against her alleged main attacker.

Humberto Salvador, 36, is on trial for 14 felony counts including kidnapping, gang rape and carjacking as well as enhancements for committing a hate crime and committing a crime for the benefit of a gang. Salvador is accused of being the ringleader of the gang rape and assault on the night of Dec. 13, 2008.

Deputy District Attorney Melissa Smith told the jury during opening arguments today that the defendant’s sperm was found inside the victim in addition to his palm print in blood on a Maglite flashlight used to strike her.

But Salvador’s defense attorney, Linda Fullerton, said that while there is no doubt the victim was brutally raped, it has not been determined which crimes her client actually committed.

She also said that there is no evidence that a hate crime was committed against the victim, who is openly lesbian, and that the attack was not carried out for the benefit of a gang.

As opening arguments continued, one of the three other suspects, Darrell Hodges, 20, was sentenced in another Martinez courtroom Tuesday afternoon to 24 years in prison for his role in the crime.

A third defendant, 20-year-old Robert Ortiz, will head to trial later this month for gang rape, kidnapping and other charges.

Josue Gonzalez, 26, who prosecutors say is the only defendant who did not sexually assault the victim, has pleaded guilty to carjacking and robbery and is awaiting sentencing.

Smith alleged the four defendants, who were affiliated with the Sereno gang, gathered in Richmond the night of Dec. 13, 2008, drinking and looking for vehicles to carjack.

Ortiz and Hodges, who were 15 and 16 years old, sought to prove their allegiance to the gang by committing crimes and were waiting for direction from Salvador.

Around 9:30 p.m., the then-28-year-old victim, referred to in court as Jane Doe, was parking her car across the street from her apartment in the 1400 block of Visalia Street. Sitting in a car not far from where she parked were the four defendants, Smith said.

As the victim crossed the street to go home, Salvador approached and told her, “Give me everything you have,” the victim recalled this afternoon, speaking through a Spanish interpreter and choking back tears on the witness stand.

After protesting that she had no money, Doe said she handed over her wallet and keys, and was hit in the back of the head with a flashlight.

“I was thinking, material things don’t have the same value as life itself,” she testified through the interpreter, sobbing.

Next, Salvador ordered her to remove her clothes, she recalled.

That was the start of a terrifying 30-minute attack in which Salvador sodomized and raped her, and she was forced to perform oral sex on Hodges and Ortiz, Smith told the jury Tuesday morning.

A few minutes into the assault, fearing that someone might see them, the suspects forced Doe into her own car and drove her to an isolated apartment complex near the Richmond BART station where they continued to sexually assault her, according to prosecutors.

Smith said Salvador ordered the two teenage defendants to come out of the car and sexually assault the victim.

Throughout the attack, Salvador made derogatory comments about the victim’s sexual orientation, the prosecutor said.

Photos displayed in court Tuesday of her car showed that it was adorned with rainbow stickers symbolizing gay pride and a rainbow-colored teddy bear sat on the dashboard.

The suspects left the victim lying in a fetal position outside of the apartment complex near the BART station and drove away.

Completely naked and covered in blood from the 10-millimeter gash on her head, the victim ran to the nearest home with a porch light on and asked for help, Smith said.

Doe is scheduled to continue her testimony in Martinez on Wednesday.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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