Just over a year since two Stanford University graduate students found former student and all-star swimmer Brock Turner on top of an unconscious woman behind a fraternity house, the trial to decide his fate on three counts of sexual-assault offenses has begun.
The trial, People v. Brock Allen Turner, began the morning of Monday, March 14, in Palo Alto with jury selection stretching through Wednesday. Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci, who works with the county's sexual-assault unit, and Turner's attorney, Michael Armstrong of Palo Alto firm Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, gave opening statements Thursday morning in front of 12 jurors -- four women and eight men -- and two alternate jurors, both men.
Turner was a 19-year-old freshman at Stanford when he was arrested early in the morning on Jan. 18, 2015, for allegedly sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, who was not a Stanford student. He was charged with attempted rape and digital penetration with a foreign object and released the same day on $150,000 bail. He soon voluntarily withdrew from Stanford and the university said he was not allowed on campus or to re-enroll.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney initially charged Turner with five felony charges, to which he pleaded not guilty in February. They were later reduced to three counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person; sexual penetration of an intoxicated person; and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
In his opening statement, Armstrong reiterated Turner's innocence. He said that while many witnesses will testify to the events leading up the alleged assault and what happened afterwards, Turner is the sole person who is able to testify to exactly what happened between him and the young woman, "Emily Doe," whose name the Weekly has changed to protect her privacy. Doe remained unconscious and unresponsive until she awoke at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose several hours later that morning, and testified during a preliminary hearing in October that she had no memory of the alleged assault.
"Brock Turner will testify and he can tell you everything that happened from the very beginning of the evening all the way through after being found on the ground with Doe," Armstrong said. "He will tell you exactly what happened in terms of how much he drank, everything that happened during the time he was with her at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house, when they left together and everything that happened. He will answer every question that anybody here has about that."
Both Turner and Doe consumed alcohol that evening. Kianerci said that blood drawn from her at the hospital has been analyzed and provided an estimate of her blood alcohol content at the time of the alleged assault: at least 0.240 to 0.249 percent, three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to Kianerci.
Several witnesses previously testified to drinking that evening, and Armstrong asked the jury to take that into account.
"I ask you to listen carefully to all of the witnesses who testify in this case because nobody has the entire ability to testify to the entire period of time -- except Brock Turner," he said.
Turner also denied the allegations in a police report released last January, acknowledging some sexual contact but telling police that his "intentions were not to try to rape a girl without her consent."
Kianerci told the jurors that the question of consent and whether Doe was in a state to give it will be key for them to answer by the end of the trial.
Kianerci played a recording of a voicemail that Doe left her boyfriend, who at the time was on the East Coast, in the early hours of Jan. 18. Her speech was slow, slurred and unintelligible, with only some words recognizable.
"That is how Doe was presenting to the outside world at 12:16 (a.m.)," Kianerci said.
She described how one of the two graduate students, both of whom will testify in the case, was "an innocent bystander, a good Samaritan who happened to be at the right place at the right time and did the right thing." The two students, Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt, were riding bicycles on their way to a party at the Kappa Alpha fraternity when they noticed a couple on the ground behind the fraternity house, Arndt testified Thursday. Jonsson first noticed that the woman was not moving, Arndt said, and that the man was "thrusting" on top of the person underneath. As they approached the man and woman, Jonsson asked loudly, "What the ---- are you doing? She's unconscious."
"Those are words of one man who very quickly ... upon seeing Doe, realized she was not a willing participant," Kianerci said in court Thursday. "Those are the words of one man among many men who came across Doe on the night of Jan. 18 whose instinct was to help her, not to try to rape her, not to sexually assault her, but to help her because she was helpless.
"The evidence will show that there was one man on the night of the 18th that took advantage of Doe -- a man who is sitting right over there," she said, gesturing to Turner, who was sitting to her right, next to Armstrong, "And his name is Brock Turner.
"You will hear that as he was confronted by these two men who intervened because what they saw was a helpless woman underneath Mr. Turner, his instinct was to get up, back away and bolt. He ran away, leaving a half-naked Doe on the ground."
Jonsson ran after Turner, tripped him and pinned his arms while Arndt held his legs down until police arrived, the two had previously testified. Arndt said Thursday that Turner kept moving around, trying to get away, and told them something to the effect of, "Let me go; I didn't do anything."
Arndt testified Thursday that Turner was fully clothed and when police arrived to take him into custody, his clothing were in the exact same state as when he was on top of Doe.
When police arrived, they found Doe lying on her side behind a Dumpster between the KA fraternity house at 664 Lomita Court and Jerry House, another campus residence at 658 Lomita Court. Her dress was pulled up to her waist, and her underwear was wadded up on the ground about half a foot away, according to the police report. There was also an open beer can nearby, according to the report.
Kianerci showed a series of photographs taken that evening in the area where Stanford Department of Public Safety Deputy Jeff Taylor first found Doe: Doe's underwear and cell phone, which Taylor found laying close to her on the ground; Doe lying on her side on the ground, surrounded by paramedics and firemen attending to her; Doe being put onto a backboard to be transported to the hospital; Doe unconscious in a hospital bed with pine needles strewn throughout her knotted hair. She remained unresponsive the entire time, save some snoring sounds, despite students', police, firefighters' and paramedics' attempts to speak to her or wake her up, Taylor said.
Doe did not regain consciousness until around 4:15 a.m. in the hospital, at which point Taylor told her that there was "a chance that she may have been sexually assaulted." Doe previously testified that she didn't realize anything had happened to her until she used the restroom and found her underwear was missing.
Doe underwent a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam at the hospital that morning; the nurse who administered it will also testify during the trial, Kianerci said. The nurse observed abrasions on her buttocks, neck and on her vagina consistent with "penetrating trauma," Kianerci said.
The SART nurse also examined Turner and later found Doe's DNA on his finger swabs, Kianerci said.
"I'm going to ask you to hold him accountable," Kianerci told the jurors. "I'm going to ask you to find him guilty and hold him accountable for taking advantage of (Emily) Doe when she was helpless and incapable of giving consent."
After Taylor and Arndt testified, Doe's sister's friend, who attends Stanford and whom they were visiting that evening, took the stand, as well as Doe's boyfriend. Her boyfriend testified to texts and phone calls they exchanged the night of the alleged assault. When Kianerci asked if he had ever heard Doe that intoxicated, he replied, "never."
Other witnesses expected to testify include Doe herself; Doe's younger sister, who went with her to the fraternity party that evening; a Santa Clara County crime lab employee; and Stanford DPS detective Mike Kim, who relieved Taylor at the hospital later in the morning on Jan. 18.
The trial continued on Friday, March 18, at 9 a.m. at the Palo Alto Courthouse on Grant Avenue. Jonsson testified Friday as well as a friend of Doe's younger sister who also attended the fraternity party with them in January 2015.
Follow Weekly reporter Elena Kadvany on Twitter (@ekadvany) throughout the trial.
The Palo Alto Weekly has created an archive of past news articles, social media reaction and other content related to the ongoing sexual assault issues at Stanford University. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.