Threat Of Life In Prison Prompts San Jose Police Officer To Attempt Plea Change In Rape Case

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A San Jose police officer accused of raping a woman at a hotel room in 2013 was remanded to jail Wednesday after trying to change his plea to no contest when prosecutors filed five new enhancements that could land him with life in prison.

Geoffrey Evatt Graves, 39, hugged his father and cried briefly during the third day of his preliminary hearing at Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose on charges of raping the woman and assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

Sheriff’s deputies placed handcuffs on Graves and led him away for incarceration in the county Main Jail, where he will remain without bail under a ruling by Judge JoAnne McCracken.

Outside the courtroom, Graves’ father, who declined to give his first name, wept and said, “He’s innocent.”

Graves, of Gilroy, is charged with committing the rape while he was on duty as a police officer after driving the victim to the TownePlace Suites by Marriot hotel in San Jose following an early morning domestic dispute she had with her husband on Sept. 22, 2013.

He is also charged with two counts of felony assault on his one-time girlfriend, a San Jose police dispatcher, in 2012 and 2013. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in April and May last year.

On Monday and Tuesday, his defense lawyer Darleen Bagley Comstedt, in her cross-examination of the two women, focused on inconsistencies in their accounts, including differences between what the alleged rape victim first told investigators in 2013 and what she said on the stand Tuesday.

But today, Graves asked to changed his plea to no contest to the charges in the first criminal complained filed last spring by the District Attorney’s Office, in which he might face up to 13 years in prison.

The request came after Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega filed a second amended complaint this afternoon, adding five enhancements to the charges against Graves, based on the what Graves’ former girlfriend and the alleged rape victim described “very powerfully” on the stand about what happened to them, Vega said.

The enhancements carry various additional sentences of 25 years, 15 years and 10 years to life in prison for crimes of rape committed along with other felony offenses as listed under state Penal Code 667.61.

McCracken, who has not accepted Graves’ change of plea request, ordered a continuance in the preliminary hearing to Friday at 1:30 p.m. to hear an answer from Comstedt on the amended criminal complaint.

The judge said there was a “very significant difference” between the first and the second complaints with the enhancements.

She also set another hearing for Monday to consider Graves’ change of plea.

Comstedt Wednesday objected to Vega’s filing of the enhancement charges, stating that the defense was not given proper notice and the new charges qualified as “harassment amendments” under a 1971 court case People vs. Flowers.

The California Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found in the Flowers case that judges have the discretion to disallow such additions to protect defendants from unfair amendments by prosecutors.

Vega said that the additions did not amount to harassment and were based on “starkly different” information communicated during the testimony of the two victims this week compared to what was alleged in the first complaint.

He said that he had mentioned at the beginning of the preliminary hearing on Monday that any plea arrangement discussion for Graves had ended and that other charges could be added.

“The time for Mr. Graves has sailed,” he said.

McCracken called for a recess to review the Flowers case and after returning, set the Friday hearing to consider Comstedt’s brief.

Comstedt told the judge that Graves had complied with conditions of his $100,000 bail posted last year but that the defense would not oppose remanding him to jail.

© Copyright 2014 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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