1st verdict reached in dual Richmond gang rape trial


The jury for 20-year-old Pinole man Marcelles Peter reached a verdict in the trial around noon. Both he and Jose Montano, 22, of Richmond, are charged with rape in concert, oral copulation in concert and sexual penetration with a foreign object along with special allegations of inflicting great bodily injury.

Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga has sealed that verdict until Montano's jury has reached a verdict.

If Montano's jury doesn't return a verdict by Thursday, the verdict for Peter will be read that afternoon, a court clerk said.

The two defendants are the first to stand trial in connection with the October 2009 gang rape in which the teen victim was raped and beaten over a more than two-hour period in a darkened courtyard at Richmond High, according to prosecutors.

Both men face life in prison if convicted of all charges.

The victim in the gang rape was left with head trauma, burns, hypothermia and a near-fatal 0.35 percent blood-alcohol level, Deputy District Attorney John Cope said.

Two other men, Manuel Ortega, 22, and Ari Morales, 19, are serving 32-year and 27-year prison terms, respectively, for their roles in the rape after reaching plea deals with the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.

Two more co-defendants are awaiting trial on lesser sexual assault charges.

Earlier this year, two juries were assigned in a rare dual trial against Montano and Peter. The two groups heard most testimony during the trial together but other parts, including closing arguments, were heard separately.

Peter's jury began deliberations late Monday morning, while Montano's jury began deliberating late Monday afternoon.

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