Recendes admits sex assault of woman, 94

Guilty plea brings closure to convoluted 2002 case, which included the false arrest of another Palo Alto man

Roberto Recendes has pleaded guilty to the 2002 rape and beating of a 94-year-old woman at Palo Alto Commons, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. He faces a 17-year sentence under a plea-bargain.

Recendes, 42, on Oct. 15 admitted to one count of sexual penetration by force and one count of elder abuse, DA office spokeswoman Amy Cornell said. He also admitted an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim. He will be sentenced to 17 years in prison on Dec. 9 under a plea bargain that replaces a potential 25-to-life sentence.

Recendes' plea comes seven years after a series of bizarre twists and turns in the case -- including the arrest of the wrong man after what was interpreted as a confession during a police interrogation. The victim, called "Jane Doe" in court papers, has since died.

Recendes was accused of breaking into the woman's assisted-living apartment at Palo Alto Commons in south Palo Alto on May 10, 2002. He was accused of entering through an unlocked sliding-glass door and of beating and raping the woman while committing a burglary.

The victim told police she was asleep when a Hispanic man who called himself "Manuel" entered her darkened apartment around 3 a.m. She fought back, scratching her assailant and tearing off his gold chain and watch, which were found in her apartment, according to a testifying officer.

Brooke Barloewen, a supervising criminalist for the Santa Clara County Crime Lab, testified during a preliminary hearing in 2009 that a hair found in an evidence bag containing sheets and blankets from the victim's bed matched Recendes' DNA. A second hair was a mix of DNA from the victim and possibly Recendes, she said.

Fingernail scrapings from the victim and DNA taken from two necklaces also showed Recendes as a possible contributor, she said.

One of those necklaces, a gold chain with nugget pendant found on the victim's bed, was identified by Recendes' former common-law wife, Artemesia Garcia, as belonging to Recendes.

Recendes had previously pleaded not guilty and was set to stand trial on the charges, along with an "enhancement" allegation of committing the sexual assault with great bodily injury during a burglary. He faced 25 years to life if convicted.

Recendes was convicted of domestic violence against Garcia and sent to prison in July 2004. He was paroled in 2006 and deported to Mexico. As a convicted felon, he was required to provide a DNA sample upon his release from prison, which was later entered into a database, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch.

The sample was found to match with the crime-scene DNA a few months after his deportation, Welch said.

After a manhunt, Recendes was arrested in Mexico in December 2007 and extradited several months later to Los Angeles. He was returned to Palo Alto and arrested on Aug. 20, 2008.

Police initially arrested Jorge Hernandez, a Gunn High School graduate, for the crime, because a ring found at the crime scene was engraved with his brother's name, "Edwin." Edwin Hernandez lived near Palo Alto Commons and had reported the ring stolen the prior year.

Police said Hernandez confessed to the crime during an extended interrogation, but DNA evidence later exonerated him. But he had also emotionally denied the assault when his brother was brought in to talk with him.

The department's interrogation techniques came under fire as a result of the false confession and Hernandez received a $75,000 settlement from the city in December 2004.

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Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

What a monster!!!

How can someone like this animal live with himself? And Jerry Brown wants to do away with the death penalty?!?

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2010 at 6:07 pm

What's your point about Jerry Brown, Nayeli how is it relevant to this case?

Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Hi Hmmm...

A monster like this who would rape a 94 year old woman has no reason to live. While he didn't kill this woman, I can't help but think about monsters like this who rape and murder children and the elderly. These are unthinkable crimes that merit the ultimate punishment.

I was shocked to recently read an article where Jerry Brown was quoted as opposing the death penalty and supporting a "bill of rights" for such violent criminals. The guy even supports "conjugal visits" for inmates. It is horrendous to think that this rapist may enjoy conjugal visits AFTER such a heinous sexual crime.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

As much as 45% of California's murders may have been committed by people previously convicted of murder, then released. People who cannot bring themselves to execute a deserving, convicted killer should not be allowed either in law enforcement or in the judiciary. People who release convicted killers should bear personal responsibility for subsequent crimes by that person. Jerry Brown gave us Rose Bird; that alone disqualified him from any subsequent public office.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm

This person is indeed a monster and should receive the death penalty. Nayeli and Walter, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments.

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2010 at 9:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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