The kidnap and rape of a woman who had parked her car on El Camino Real in Palo Alto last Saturday (May 22) is being described by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office as particularly violent and brutal.
Lionel Blanks Jr., 36, of Santa Clara, appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose Friday afternoon as he was formally charged with rape by force, penetration with a foreign object, kidnapping, attempted murder, carjacking, second-degree robbery and threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury.
Blanks, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds, according to court papers, was heavily shackled. His face swollen and with one eye closed shut from a beating his family says he received at the hands of police.
Blanks was briefly brought out of a room adjacent to the court and stood apart from other persons being arraigned, looking dazed.
"Love you, brother," a relative called out as he was led from the court room and other relatives wept.
He faces a 50-years-to-life sentence plus 12 years and 4 months if convicted, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Erin West.
The attack against the woman, who is not a Palo Alto resident and not homeless, was a "very violent crime," West said.
In the early hours of May 22, the victim parked her Mercedes Benz SUV under a bright street light on El Camino Real a short distance from Serra Street, according to the victim's statement to police.
She climbed into her passenger seat where she went to sleep. She awoke to feeling cold air and glass pieces shattered on the seat.
Blanks allegedly pulled her out of the vehicle by her neck and began punching her in the face. The victim's head hit the curb as he punched her and she blacked out intermittently, according to a report by the Palo Alto Police Department.
Blanks allegedly bound both of her wrists and blindfolded the woman. He put her on the floor of the back seat of her car, behind the driver's seat, and then drove around for 20 minutes, she told police.
He asked if she had any money, she said. He told her he had a weapon and that he would kill her.
At one point, the victim said, he exited the freeway, got out of the car and began wiping down the car inside and out with wet wipes the victim had in her car. He then got back in the car and drove about 5 minutes to Westwood Elementary School in Santa Clara.
Blanks lives with his girlfriend and children on North Winchester Boulevard less than a mile from the school, according to the police report.
Blanks allegedly pulled the victim from the car and beat her in the face. He bound her wrists again and dragged her to the rear of a portable building, the report stated. After more beating, the victim's head to hit the ground.
Blanks allegedly tore off the woman's clothes and, despite her struggling and pleas, raped her, according to the report. He then began choking the woman, who told the police she thought she was going to die.
However, her attacker got up and began running through the grass. The victim said she could hear the jingling of her car keys in his pocket. She then got up and ran in the opposite direction from the suspect.
Out on the street, she flagged down a passing car, according to the report. The passerby called 911 at about 5:23 a.m.
The woman sustained multiple lacerations, including to her head, arms, wrists, hands and elbows, and required stitches on her knees. She had a black eye and bruising to her face and buttocks, genital injuries and severe neck bruising and swelling and loss of consciousness, according to the police report.
DNA evidence taken from the victim electronically matched a DNA profile from Blanks, according to the report.
Blanks was arrested on Wednesday (May 26) at about 4:30 p.m. as he was leaving his residence and allegedly ran from police.
Outside the court room, his mother became emotional and accused police of beating her son as he lay on the ground.
"Did you see his face? The police said he was resisting arrest but they didn't charge him with that," she said.
She also said Blanks was not receiving pain medication he needs.
"He has not been proven guilty. They're treating him like an animal," she said.
Lt. Phil Cooke, spokesman for the Santa Clara Police Department, said Blanks spotted a detective when police arrived to make an arrest and started running through back yards and over fences. He was found hiding in a cemetery near his home.
Six officers tried to take him into custody but "he fought hard not to go to jail," Cooke said.
Blanks kicked at police and officers deployed a Taser twice before subuing him. He sustained his injuries during the struggle and some officers also received minor injuries, Cooke said.
"Santa Clara Police Department does not condone excessive force. He was a violent offender violently resisting and it took force to subdue him. In this case, force was needed. Everything was within our policy," he said.
Blanks described his occupation as a self-employed research assistant in a 2006 drunk-driving arrest report. He listed his occupation as a construction iron worker on his Facebook page. He has four children, according to GeeGee Franklin, mother of one of his kids.
"He's a very good father," she said.
He was born in Redwood City and previously lived in Mountain View.
Blanks will return to court to enter a plea on Thursday (June 3). He is being held without bail in Santa Clara County Jail, and the judge has issued a protective order.