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O.C. man is arrested on suspicion of I-5 rape

December 13, 2007|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

A San Juan Capistrano man has been arrested in connection with the weekend rape of a woman on the side of Interstate 5.

Alejandro Martinez Leyva, 25, was taken into custody about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at his home, about a mile from where the assault occurred, said Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.

Detectives traced the man to his residence in the 26400 block of Calle San Luis through a description provided by the victim, a 24-year-old San Diego County woman. Authorities found a dark, late-model sedan with a spoiler and baby's car seat matching the victim's description parked outside the home.

The woman was driving toward San Diego about 2:30 a.m. Saturday when her car spun out of control near the Junipero Serra Road offramp after she tried to avoid hitting a tow truck, authorities said.

She hit a freeway barrier, pulled onto the shoulder and called for help on her cellphone. A man pulled up in front of her and, in broken English, offered to help, officials said.

When she declined, he grabbed the phone from her hand, forced his way into the car and raped her, police said.

Officials called the attack an unusually brazen sexual assault -- committed alongside perhaps hundreds of passing vehicles and potential witnesses.

Amormino said the suspect was found through "good old-fashioned detective work." Detectives said they linked Leyva to the victim's car through physical as well as forensic evidence, and the victim identified him as her attacker in a lineup.

Leyva, a gardener, was being held without bail at Orange County Jail.

He has been ruled out as a suspect in the Oct. 7 rape of a woman walking to work along historic Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano, officials said.

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