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Rape Trial Testimony: Girl Looked Conscious

In the case against a sheriff official's son and two others, a neurologist interprets video footage.

June 09, 2004|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

The alleged victim in a high-profile Orange County rape trial appeared conscious in video footage purported to show three boys sexually assaulting the girl, who was 16 at the time, a neurologist testified Tuesday.

Prosecutors have contended the girl was unconscious, but defense witness Dr. Harris Fisk said several of her movements required conscious control of her body and revealed she knew what was going on around her. Like the defense attorneys, he contended the girl was faking unconsciousness.

"No one can refute someone who says they don't remember," he said, adding later, "She appears to be at a lower level of consciousness than she actually is."

Defendant Gregory Scott Haidl, 18, along with Kyle Joseph Nachreiner and Keith James Spann, both 19, each face up to 55 years in prison if convicted on all 24 counts.

They are accused of raping the girl and sexually assaulting her with a pool cue, bottle and other objects late one night in July 2002 at the Corona del Mar home of Haidl's father, Don, an Orange County assistant sheriff. All four teens lived in Rancho Cucamonga at the time.

Defense attorneys have contended the girl was a willing partner in the encounter. The girl, now 18 and called Jane Doe in court, has testified that she does not remember what happened that night shortly after Nachreiner gave her a drink.

A prosecution witness has testified that the girl's behavior on the video indicated that she was under the influence of the "date rape" drug GHB, but on Tuesday, Fisk disagreed.

Fisk guided jurors through a DVD that contained excerpts from the 21-minute video of the alleged rape, stopping at points where he said Jane Doe pushed her hair back from her face, repositioned her legs or raised her arms to touch one of the boys.

While maintaining that the girl was conscious, Fisk acknowledged that at times she appeared lethargic, perhaps because of alcohol or drugs.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Dan Hess asked Fisk why he didn't include in his DVD the scene in which Jane Doe raises her arms to her chest after one of the boys pinches her. Her protective reaction to pain but to little else suggests she was unconscious, Hess contended.

Fisk said the girl would not have responded to such a stimulus at all if she had been unconscious. The doctor did acknowledge that during portions of the full tape, Jane Doe could have been unconscious. "There are clearly areas where she could have been," he said. But most of the tape, he said, indicates she was lethargic "at worst."

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