Santa Rosa felon faces second trial on rape and kidnapping charges
The second rape and kidnapping trial of a former Santa Rosa vineyard worker accused in a series of assaults on women continued Friday with testimony from one of the alleged victims.
Rogelio Carlos-Zaragoza, 28, is accused of abducting three women from 2006 to 2009 and driving them to remote locations in Sonoma County where up to four men raped and beat them.
He was convicted of the charges after a 2010 trial and sentenced to 75 years in prison, but his conviction was overturned after a state appeals court ruled jurors didn’t receive proper instructions before deliberating.
The panel was not advised that prosecutors were required to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard admonition in felony trials. Appellate justices found no other flaws.
“We play by the rules,” said Carlos-Zaragoza’s lawyer, Walter Rubenstein. “Those are the rules, and the rules, for whatever reason, weren’t adhered to in this case.”
Carlos-Zaragoza, who had been serving his time at Calipatria State Prison, was brought back to Sonoma County for a new trial. It opened Wednesday before Judge Rene Chouteau.
On Friday, the second of three alleged victims described being picked up by Carlos-Zaragoza and his older brother, Leonel Carlos-Zaragoza, outside the Steele Lane 7-Eleven store the night of June 16, 2006.
She testified she asked the men for a ride to a friend’s house but they took her instead to a Windsor vineyard, where they offered her money for sex. When she refused, she said, they drove her to another vineyard near Cloverdale where two other men joined them.
That’s when the attacks began, she said.
“Then they started raping me,” the woman told prosecutor Tania Partida. “Each one of them. Over and over.”
She said the assault continued for about eight hours. The men drove her home at about 6 a.m. and she reported the attack to police later that day, she said.
Her statements followed testimony earlier in the week from another woman who described a similar attack later that year.
It was unclear if a third woman who testified at the first trial would take the stand.
She previously told jurors she was forced at knifepoint into the brothers’ car on July 24, 2009, as she was walking on Dutton Avenue.
The men drove onto Highway 101, where a CHP officer tried to pull them over for speeding. A chase ensued, and the men’s vehicle reached speeds of 100 mph before they exited at Mark West Springs Road and were arrested.
Leonel Carlos-Zaragoza was tried separately and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His younger brother faces the original 75-year sentence if convicted.
His lawyer would not say if Rogelio Carlos- Zaragoza will testify in his own defense.
The trial continues Monday morning.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or email@example.com. On Twitter @ppayne.