VAN NUYS — A preliminary hearing for four men charged in a series of rapes and robberies in West San Fernando Valley parks began Monday with two teen-agers testifying that they were sexually assaulted.
The two girls said they were raped in Shadow Ranch Park on May 30 after two men robbed them and four companions at gunpoint.
Hector Martinez Rocha, 20, and Francisco Chavez Ramirez, 30, were identified as the rapists.
The hearing at Van Nuys Municipal Court is to determine if Rocha will be tried in Superior Court on 26 felony counts, including three counts of rape, nine counts of false imprisonment and 12 counts of robbery. He allegedly committed crimes in four attacks, acting by himself in a June 16 attack at Chase Park in West Hills.
Ramirez is charged with participating in three of the late-night assaults, which generally targeted young victims.
Also accused of participating in one attack are Jose Guadalupe Chavez, 21, and Jose Rivas Torres, 28.
Armed with an automatic pistol, Rocha ordered the girls, another female and three teen-age boys to turn over their valuables, according to Monday's testimony. Four of the group were tied up with their own shoelaces.
One girl said Rocha became angry when he discovered a pager that she had hidden in her pants. He then raped her, holding "a gun to my mouth the whole time," she testified.
In a separate incident, another witness testified that he was with a female friend in Chase Park on June 16 and that Rocha raped the young woman as she was lying next to him.