Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Judge orders trial in Davis rape case

From page A1 | November 11, 2012 | Leave Comment

WOODLAND — A Yolo Superior Court judge has found sufficient evidence for a Davis man to stand trial on rape allegations stemming from his August arrest in downtown Davis.

Thaddeus Jay Sonne, 21, is due back in court Nov. 21 for arraignment on a felony count of rape by force. He has pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

A patrol officer and detective from the Davis Police Department both took the witness stand Friday during the second day of Sonne’s preliminary hearing, offering details about the chain of events that led to Sonne’s arrest.

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor, Officer Ralph Piro said he and a fellow officer were patrolling the area of Second and H streets shortly before midnight on Aug. 16 when a couple called their attention to suspicious activity near the Amtrak train station.

“It appeared there were two people having sex nearby and (they) wanted us to check it out,” Piro testified.

Piro said he and Officer Janell Bestpitch were walking along the railroad tracks when they came upon the figures of a man and a woman lying on the ground.

“I was able to hear a female voice saying, ‘No, stop, no, no, stop,” Piro recalled. “The female’s arms were pinned to the ground.”

The man — later identified by police as Sonne — jumped up and said “sorry” when the officers shone their flashlights on the pair, Piro said. The woman, he added, appeared to have been crying.

The officers took separate statements from both Sonne and the woman, after which Piro arrested Sonne on suspicion of rape after determining the woman had been too intoxicated to give consent, Piro testified.

Under cross-examination by Sonne’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson, Piro said Sonne seemed “surprised” by the arrest and said he believed the sex to be consensual.

During a subsequent interview at the Davis police station, Sonne told Detective Ariel Pineda that he and the 21-year-old woman had been among a group of acquaintances that had gone bar-hopping in downtown Davis after meeting up at a J Street party.

“We were all drunk,” Sonne reportedly said in his statement. Pineda said the couple who initially reported the sexual activity had previously seen the woman “in distress,” having trouble standing and keeping her head upright.

Sonne said the alleged victim had led him out of a Second Street bar and toward the train station — an act that was captured on the establishment’s security camera at about 11:20 p.m., Pineda testified. He also said Sonne recalled “making out” with the woman in a way that led him to believe she wanted to go further.

“If she wanted me to stop she would have pushed me off her,” Sonne said, according to Pineda. He said Sonne acknowledged hearing the woman say “no,” but added, “I didn’t know what it meant.”

A physical exam conducted on the woman following the incident showed traumatic injuries consistent with a sexual assault, Pineda testified.

She had no memory of the alleged rape, Pineda added under questioning by Hutchinson. He also said he did not review photographs taken at the scene of Sonne, who had dirt and debris on his back as though he had been lying face-up on the ground at some point.

Following the two-hour hearing, Judge Paul Richardson said he had heard “sufficient evidence to warrant a holding order.” A trial date is expected to be scheduled following the November arraignment.

Sonne remains in custody at the Yolo County Jail.

— Reach Lauren Keene at or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene.


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