Admitted rapist of woman, 94, gets 17 years

Roberto Recendes pleaded guilty to raping and beating of a woman at Palo Alto Commons

The long wait for the imprisonment of a man who in 2002 raped and beat a 94-year-old Palo Alto woman came to an end on Thursday (Jan. 6) with a 17-year sentence. The victim, called "Jane Doe" in court papers, has since died.

Roberto Recendes, 42, on Oct. 15 admitted to one count of sexual penetration by force and one count of elder abuse in the assault of the woman in her Palo Alto Commons apartment in south Palo Alto on May 10, 2002.

He also admitted that he inflicted great bodily injury upon her. The 17-year sentence is a plea bargain that replaces a potential 25-to-life sentence.

Recendes' sentence 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.

Recendes was accused of breaking into the woman's assisted-living apartment at Palo Alto Commons in south Palo Alto. He entered through an unlocked sliding-glass door and assaulted the woman while committing a burglary, according to police.

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 source, she said.

One necklace, a gold chain with a 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" charge of committing sexual assault with great bodily injury during a burglary.

He was convicted of domestic violence against Garcia and sent to prison in July 2004. Upon 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 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 there apparently was ambiguity in what he said that was misinterpreted by the interrogator. DNA evidence later exonerated him completely. Hernandez also emotionally denied the assault when his brother, Edwin, 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 Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm

That's all - 17 years? Seems the justice system, by pandering to him, also got raped. When he gets out, will he be deported, then get to sneak back in here?

Like this comment
Posted by Why Should WE Pay Too?
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

"Those that live by the sword, will die by the sword" Famous quotation.

Not to die, but hope he will be ready for repercussions from inmates when they find out what he is in for.............

I don't appreciate the fact that tax payers are paying for his room and board for the 17 his heating bill, water bill, babysitting guard, etc. Possibly the State could hold him for just a few years, then send him to finish out his sentence in the country he came from, lightening up the load of those of us shelling out for his comfort in prison here.........(?) Good bill for Simitian to submit.

Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

This monster RAPED an elderly woman! This is justice in California???

Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

Sheesh, and now we have to put him up for 17 years.

Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Seventeen years for brutally raping a lovely 94 year old lady? This is justice????
Shooting would be too good for him. Flaying might be an option - limb by limb - for this coward. And he'll be out before he's fifty years old. Will he be 'rehabilitated?--while we pay his room and board and health care for seventeen years. And in the meantime, how do we clean house in the prosecutor's office?

Like this comment
Posted by LK
a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm

How much of his 17 year term has he already served?

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 8, 2011 at 12:17 am

A light sentence for a despicable crime.

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

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