Trial begins for men accused in Richmond gang rape


"The evidence will prove Marcelles Peter was not just there, but he played an active sexual part in these attacks," prosecutor John Cope said on Monday.

Monday afternoon, there were opening statements for 20-year-old Marcelles Peter. A juvenile at the time of the incident, Peter is charged with rape in concert and sexual assault with a foreign object.

This all stems from the October 2009 gang rape of a 16-year-old Richmond High School student outside a homecoming dance. The victim was raped, beaten, and robbed while coming in and out of consciousness from a near-fatal amount of alcohol. She is expected to take the stand during the trial.

"What you will hear from Jane Doe is very limited," the prosecutor said. "She has no memory of the sexual assault, for whatever reason. She was a .35 blood alcohol level. They were pouring booze in her and on her."

Besides the six men and teenagers arrested for the attack, police estimate up to 20 others watched and did nothing.

Prosecutors say DNA evidence from Peter as found on a condom at the scene along with cells from the victim.

Like all the witness and participants, prosecutors claim peter tried to minimize the incident when first questioned by police, saying initially he wasn't there and then finally only admitting to fondling the girl.

But the district attorney told the jury Peter and the others did much more than that.

"She had serious trauma around the head and face," Cope said. "She had a concussion, she had cuts and scrapes from being beaten and dragged. She was cold and naked."

After the prosecutor finished, Peter's attorney, Gordan Brown, gave his opening statement to the jury. He conceded his client was at the scene the night of the gang rape, but says the DNA evidence on the condom may have been carried or transferred there from a beer can, possibly by the wind from a circling police helicopter.

Jose Montano, 22, is also on trial. The men will be tried together for the most part after that with two juries present, though some evidence will be specific to one defendant and inadmissible for the other.

This trial is expected to go until mid-July.

Two others in the case have already accepted plea deals and are serving prison sentences. Two other have yet to stand trial.

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