Three character witnesses testifying Friday on behalf of former Stanford University student Brock Turner, who is on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated young woman on campus in January 2015, described him as "respectful," "courteous" and "know(ing) what right and wrong is."
Turner's former girlfriend, swim coach and friend from his hometown in Ohio told jurors that while they had never seen him drunk, they didn't believe he would carry out the charges he now faces: 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.
Turner's high school girlfriend, a college student, described their relationship as "respectful" and very close to this day, though they are no longer dating. In response to a question from defense attorney Michael Armstrong, she said she never felt pressured to engage in any sexual activity with him.
"He has great moral character," she said.
Turner's friend, who was a year ahead of him in high school and spent much time with him as a teammate on the same club swim team, said Turner was like a "little brother" to him.
"There's no way he would ever do something like that," the friend said.
"I don't believe that he would do anything that would harm anybody," his former swim coach testified. "He knows what right and wrong is."
But had any of the three witnesses ever consumed alcohol with Turner, seen him intoxicated or attended a party with him, Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci asked during her cross examinations? None of them had, they testified.
The defense called the character witnesses the two days after Turner himself took the stand to provide his account of what allegedly happened between him and the young woman, "Emily Doe," in the early hours of Jan. 18, 2015. The Palo Alto Weekly has changed the woman's name to protect her privacy.
Turner admitted to engaging in some sexual activity with Doe but said it was consensual and that she remained conscious and responsive throughout all of their interactions.
This was in contrast to the testimony of witnesses who described her as unresponsive and unconscious from the point she was first discovered around 1 a.m., throughout a 30-minute ambulance ride to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose and for several hours at the hospital until she regained consciousness at 4:15 a.m.
Doe has testified she has no memory of the alleged assault nor of meeting Turner that night. Expert witnesses for both the defense and prosecution have said that she was likely in an alcohol-induced blackout, meaning she lost some memory of the evening even though she may have been conscious for part of it.
Over the course of the trial, which began last Monday, March 14, both the prosecution and defense have focused on how intoxication affected Turner, Doe and others that night and attacked the credibility of their opponent's witnesses.
On Friday, the tenth day of the trial, Kianerci also played the full audio recording of the statement Turner gave to police on Jan. 18. He was interviewed by Stanford University police detective Mike Kim, who testified this week on behalf of the prosecution. In the interivew, Turner said Doe was "responsive" to him and their interactions were consensual, though he didn't mention several verbal responses that she allegedly gave him, as he testified to this week.
"Like, literally, my intentions were not to try to rape a girl without her consent," Turner told Kim during the Jan. 18 interview. "I can't believe I'm charged with rape."
He described his level of intoxication that night as "pretty buzzed" but functional, his memory "fuzzy" in parts but clear on other details.
Turner also told Kim on Jan. 18 he didn't "think" he ran away from two graduate students who approached Turner after seeing him "thrusting" on top of an unmoving body, behind a Dumpster near the Kappa Alpha fraternity house. He testified this week that, feeling sick, he got up from Doe, when all of a sudden one of the students, Peter Jonsson, approached him, put his hand on his shoulder and tried to put him in an armlock, making him scared which is why he ran away.
Kianerci called back Jonsson on Friday to testify that the first time he touched Turner was when he tackled him, after Turner started to run away. He said he never put his arm on his shoulder or tried to put him in an armlock.
Defense attorney Michael Armstrong also asked Kim if he had made attempts to interview any members of the KA fraternity, other people who attended the party or go back to the KA house to find more potential witnesses; he said he hadn't. Police did interview a friend and fellow swim-team member with whom Turner went to the KA party.
Armstrong is expected to call one more defense witness on Monday morning. Judge Aaron Persky instructed Kianerci and and Armstrong to prepare to give closing statements later on Monday.
Read the Palo Alto Weekly's coverage of the Brock Turner trial and other sexual-assault cases at Stanford here.