News

Lionel Blanks Jr. found guilty, faces 100 years

Convicted of 2010 attempted murder and rape of woman, Blanks shows no emotion after verdict

Two years and one day after Lionel Blanks Jr. carjacked, assaulted and tried to murder a woman who had parked her car along El Camino Real in Palo Alto, a jury found the Santa Clara felon guilty of the brutal attack.

Blanks, 37, was convicted Wednesday of six counts: rape with the special allegation -- kidnapping, tying and binding and causing great bodily injury; penetration with a foreign object, also with the same allegation; attempted murder; carjacking; robbery and terrorist threats.

Prosecutors say his potential sentence fits his crimes: 100 years to life in prison.

His victim, a woman in her 20s known only as "Jane Doe," said Blanks' actions on May 22, 2010, robbed her of her smile and her happiness. The savage beating, rape and attempted strangulation he meted out made her feel "naked to the world," Doe told jurors during the week-and-a-half trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Doe testified she was napping at night in her Mercedes Benz SUV under a bright streetlight on El Camino Real, a short distance from Serra Street. She had had a few drinks with friends at a local bar and became lost while trying to drive to her South Bay home. She pulled over to a place she thought was safe to nap and awoke covered in shattered glass.

Blanks grabbed her by the throat and dragged her from her vehicle. He pounded her head into the concrete pavement so many times and with such force her head was bouncing like a basketball, she told the jury.

Blanks bound her and threw her into the back of her SUV, then drove to Westwood Elementary School in Santa Clara. He dragged her from the vehicle, then raped and beat her in the elementary school field. Then he squeezed her throat, cutting off her breath. She only survived the attack because she was able to fake her death, she said.

"This was a particularly brutal and violent crime, and I'm so glad that the system worked, and the jury held him accountable for the injuries he inflicted," Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Erin West said Thursday. "The victim is pleased with the verdict, and she's grateful. But she still has a lot of healing to do. Listening to her testify, there was a lot of emotional damage."

The victim's testimony still resonates with West.

"'He took my smile. He took my happiness,'" West recalled Doe said. The victim's jaw and teeth were so damaged from the pavement battering, for many months she had a crooked smile.

"Because she was so obviously injured, when she went to the store, she felt like people could see what had happened to her, and people knew she had been raped and beaten, and she felt naked and very exposed to the world," West said.

The trial began May 14. The jury of six men and six women returned the verdict after deliberating just one day. A prior strike allegation for a 1991 assault with a deadly weapon conviction was found to be true, which will also count toward Blanks' sentencing.

Blanks showed no reaction. His mother left the courtroom after the first count's verdict was read, West said.

The jury was composed of "a good cross section" of ages and races, West said. She praised Santa Clara County Deputy Public Defender Gilda Valeros as "a very good attorney." But in the end, there wasn't much the defense could do, she said. DNA evidence taken from the victim matched a DNA profile from Blanks.

Valeros could not be reached for comment. Blanks is scheduled for sentencing on July 20.

Related stories:

Accused rapist's criminal record dates to 1993

Palo Alto kidnap case called 'very violent'

Suspect arrested for Palo Alto kidnap, rape, attempted murder

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by clive boulton
a resident of Stanford
on May 25, 2012 at 12:12 am

Violent disgusting crime, not even expected in the South Bronx, let alone on El Camino Real in Palo Alto. God bless the victims healing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

Another reason for capital punishment -- quick, fast and cheaper than a life long incarceration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Restitution is Needed
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

It would be more severe to make convicted criminals pay restitution for life to his/her victim, instead of the death penalty. People have been on death row, for over 20 years, waiting. Rarely does anything ever happen to them. The death penalty is not productive.

It would be constructive for everyone (including victims) to receive monetary benefits from a convicted criminals time in prison. Make them pay. It will give criminals time to think, and perhaps come around to realize their actions were wrong.

The death penalty does not work. It is equally or more expensive than life in prison, or 100 years. I wonder if in 20 years, this man will get out on 'good behavior'.

What we need is prison reform. But with the people we have in government now (those lacking common sense) I don't know how we'll ever get reform. They're too busy protecting tree frogs, and giving
"rights" to whales, spending time and money holding up justice for victims, each demanding endless appeals. Therein lies the expense. It's not like in Iran, where a person is hung in the public square, with little notice or fanfare.

Looks like there is also an imbalance of penalties involved in America's cases, even when it comes to murder.

Not to diminish what happened with this victim, but in a late term abortions, babies are dismembered. In unsuccessful abortions, a child is left on a counter, to die, unattended. Where's the outrage?

We call that legal, giving us the right to kill a human being. It's even considered a lucrative business for many. So go figure.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

Interesting points Restitution. One major stumbling block to the possibility of long term restitution is that the majority of these career criminals have nothing to offer or anything to go after in terms of monetary damages. I like the theory, but I'm not sure it would be effective in most cases just because the convicted have nothing to begin with.

As for the death penalty, in its current state, I would say it's equally ineffective. Although I'm opposed to it on a personal level, what's the point of having a death penalty law if those who stand convicted have little fear of ever being put to death. That's certainly true here in California anyway. Not much of a deterrent if you know deep down it's probably never going to happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

> Two years and one day

Wow the lapse in justice in this case is ridiculous.

What happened to the speedy trial concept? It really took 2 years to figure this out?

Can the death penalty apply here? Was this was a capital crime, not that it should not be, but this person should not ever be allowed to roam among the population again.

Why would someone do something like that, and if he did that, how many other incidents did he do or attempt?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sickening, to jail or die
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I also agree with the capital punishment when it such a ugly, horrid event.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Goodbye Lionel.. May you live a long life so you can enjoy your 8 X 11 cell..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Heartbreaking:

"'He took my smile. He took my happiness,'" West recalled Doe said. The victim's jaw and teeth were so damaged from the pavement battering, for many months she had a crooked smile.

"Because she was so obviously injured, when she went to the store, she felt like people could see what had happened to her, and people knew she had been raped and beaten, and she felt naked and very exposed to the world," West said.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Amy
a resident of Downtown North
on May 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

Bring back the death penalty.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ann
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 26, 2012 at 9:52 am

this trial should have been done and over with within 6 months of the crime..tops...we the taxpayers are going to spend millions on this worthless ..yes worthless..criminal...and what does the victim get....for the rest of her life...i believe in the death penalty....but it has become a joke...the lawyers and judges and all the players are making millions off cases like this...the death penalty should be carried out within 1 year...period...the lawyers and the system have a conflict of interest ...the longer they drag it out....the more money they make...i say give the money to the victims and hang the guy today...make punishment a deterrent


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

Ann, I don't think it is the death penalty that is a joke, it is our society and the way we deliver justice that is "funny".

I don't like the death penalty, but I do think it is appropriate for some crimes, in fact demanded. This case to me is marginal, but I can agree that this person is going to end up costing society a lot more than he will ever create.

The thing is that our system seems to be afraid to put laws or people that interpret the laws in place who can be mechanical and objective about interpreting the law. In other words the law is constructed very carefully to bolster and justify the political status quo.

Did you know that statistically judges give harsher sentences for the same crime depending on their blood glucose level and how much they have had to eat?

Plus, we have a whole industry of lawyers that seems to think that constructing laws so that they can only be used on the poor suckers, when those who have the money for a good lawyer can take advantage of pre-arranged clevernesses in the law to avoid penalties.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Surgeon
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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