Trial began Wednesday for a Santa Barbara transient accused of attempting to rape a 19-year-old woman in 2018.
Angel Anthony Richard Sanchez, 29, appeared before Judge Von Deroian and a panel of jurors in the Figueroa Division of Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
Mr. Sanchez is charged with a number of felonies including kidnap to commit rape and assault to commit rape. He faces enhancements for prior convictions that resulted in prison terms and using a knife in the attack.
The charges were filed on Sept. 5, 2018 and he pleaded not guilty on Sept. 24, 2018.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian, the case prosecutor, made her opening statement Wednesday. Mr. Sanchez’s defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Mark Owens, choose to defer his opening until after the prosecution’s case has been presented.
At around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2018, the victim was walking in the 3700 block of State Street when she was approached from behind by a man riding a bicycle said Anthony Wagner, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department, in a news release.
The man, allegedly Mr. Sanchez, stopped her, threw her cell phone away and pushed her to the ground. He allegedly threatened her and “dragged her into a dimly lit corner of a nearby parking lot where he attempted to sexually assault her,” said Mr. Wagner.
In her opening statement, Ms. Karapetian said a bystander heard the victim scream for help and drove his vehicle in that direction to investegate. Mr. Sanchez allegedly fled on his bicycle while the rescuer called 9-1-1.
“The man on that bicycle was the defendant. He came up from behind her and she stopped. He started talking to her, he wanted to get to know her name. He wanted to talk to her and she didn’t want anything to do with him…she tried to ignore him the best she could. But he didn’t want that, he wanted her,” said Ms. Karapetian who described how Mr. Sanchez dragged the victim through the parking lot of a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts and attempted to rip off her clothes.
“Thank goodness (the victim) was screaming and fighting the best that she could because a man across the street at Bank of America heard her and drove over and when he did the lights shined in and the defendant saw him approaching and he got back on his bike and he fled.” said Ms. Karapetian.
The victim testified that she was attacked on her way to get cash from the Bank of America ATM for a game night with her friends.
Ms. Karapetian played surveillance video from the night of the attack that appears to show a person matching Mr. Sanchez’s description on a bicycle following a woman who appears to be the victim. She also played a recorded 911 call which shows the victim emotionally describing her attacker and asking for police assistance.
Police found Mr. Sanchez on the evening of Sept. 3, 2018 in the area where the assault took place. When officers identified themselves Mr. Sanchez fled on foot. Following a brief struggle, during which time Mr. Sanchez attempted to grab a concealed knife from the officer’s waistband, he was taken into custody, Mr. Wagner said.