News


Character witnesses defend Brock Turner

Defense, prosecution to make closing statements Monday

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.

Comments

18 people like this
Posted by LAH Mom
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Mar 25, 2016 at 2:57 pm

I find this very sad that this young man's life has been ruined. If he was indeed trying to rape an unconscious woman, then he deserves the sentence the judge throws at him but I don't think that was his intent. In High school he was a swimmer at the highest levels in the nation, probably leading a very busy, structured, and protected life. This young man comes to Stanford and has total freedom for the first time in his life and made some very bad choices with drinking and partying. I don't think he's "bad" and he seems truly remorseful. [Portion removed.]


55 people like this
Posted by katie
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:24 pm

To the woman who just posted, are you for REAL? This "nice young man" is a PREDATOR. Witnesses testify he was on the prowl from the beginning, kissing women without their consent, and then finally, spotting the drunkest girl in the room and penetrating her while she was UNCONSCIOUS. [Portion removed.]

Do you have any idea what rape does to someone? How it absolutely destroys their life? It doesn't matter that she was irresponsible - the punishment for drinking too much should be a bad hangover, not RAPE. The fact that you are raising two daughters and you have more sympathy for the RAPIST than the victims is appalling. [Portion removed.]

As for this trial, why the hell did the judge allow for character witnesses?? Isn't that reserved for sentencing?


30 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I am wondering LAH Mom how you would feel if one of your daughters was the victim in this case?
His statements on the witness stand do not ring true.
I would love to hear how you think he is showing remorse, the only thing I have heard him do is make excuses for his behavior and blame the victim.


6 people like this
Posted by PA resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm

I hope Brock Turner gets acquitted. [Portion removed.] Hang tough buddy, you will make it out and the truth will set you free.


21 people like this
Posted by @LAH Mom
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:59 pm

So in other words, the *alleged* lack of responsibility on the part of the young woman in this case excuses the actions of Mr. Turner?

Funny, I thought we as a society had moved on from "she had it coming to her."


8 people like this
Posted by @PA resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm

[Post removed.]


45 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:11 pm

A woman has a right to get intoxicated, dress in the most suggestive manner, and not get raped. No, she has absolutely no responsibility in this matter. Regardless of how she behaves, no man has the right to assume he can force himself on her. [Portion removed.]


52 people like this
Posted by Ban Frats
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

[Portion removed.]

He clearly did it. He's clearly not sorry. He clearly takes no responsibility. I feel sorry for his parents, who sent their son off to Stanford, probably so proud of him, and then he went and did this ridiculous thing.

Fraternities should be banned. Period. Hennessey, your ridiculous alcohol proposal will only worsen the rape problem and drive it underground -- girls won't report because they weren't supposed to be drinking. It's worse than nothing. End. Fraternities. Now. The Greek system is the problem and everyone everyone everyone knows it.


14 people like this
Posted by Suzanne
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Suzanne is a registered user.

Men should have more self-control. But women know that when they are around drunk men, they are targets, even when they are sober. [Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Lisa is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto mom
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 26, 2016 at 3:13 am

Palo Alto mom is a registered user.

Being a mother of a daughter and a son , I followed this case very closely. I believe that Mr. Kim the detective , utterly failed to gather more witnesses and testimonies regarding what exactly was the nature of interaction between Ms. Doe and Mr. Turner. [Portion removed.]

I see in this case overly pushy prosecutor ,who has NOT gathered enough witnesses to the interaction between Ms. Doe and Mr. Turner. [Portion removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2016 at 9:10 am

Lisa is a registered user.

I'm sure his attorney looked for those witnesses but could not find any.
[Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 26, 2016 at 10:55 am

Anneke is a registered user.

I am not here to make a judgement. I will leave that up to the legal system.

I do find the situation extremely sad for everyone involved. Universities and colleges carry a great responsibility for the young human beings who join their institutions. Eighteen years old, frontal lobes not yet completely developed, until then, always (or mostly) under direct parental care with certain home rules, and all of a sudden on your own with racing hormones, an enormous freedom to party and to drink until deep into the night with the results thereof.

Again, a tragedy for everyone involved, including Stanford University!


17 people like this
Posted by Men can be Scary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

Men can be Scary is a registered user.

The things men are capable of are frightening; those capabilities are more likely to become realities when they are highly intoxicated. The threat of male violence is very real when excessive testosterone is mixed with alcohol or drugs, and inhibitions/ self-control fall away.

Steer clear of young males drinking to excess, period!


2 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2016 at 11:52 am

Lisa is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by This is a horrible situation
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 26, 2016 at 4:54 pm

This is a horrible situation is a registered user.

To Palo Alto Mom. I know people that go to Stanford and a couple that lived in the KA fraternity last year. This incident was talked about quite a bit among the students last year. I have also been following the case fairly closely.

If I remember correctly, there were several other "witnesses" that were interviewed that night by police that never testified in court. If they had anything important to add for either the prosecutor or the defense, I'm sure they would have also testified. I never heard of there being any other witnesses with more information, but then again, I don't go to Stanford. I was very likely not privy to all of the student chatter.

Didn't both of the graduate students that intervened say that there was no one else around when they came across the defendant and victim? Then slowly a small group of people trickled into the scene? Sounds like there weren't any other witnesses.

To Lisa. I agree. I can't see the defense attorney not making the attempt to look for witnesses to aid the defendant. The fact that the defense did not call any witnesses to the incident, likely means that they were not able to find any either.

Either way. This is a horrible incident for all involved. The sad thing is that it could have been prevented.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto mom
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Palo Alto mom is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto mom
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Palo Alto mom is a registered user.

To Lisa and to others: the defense attorney tried to find witnesses to interaction between Turner and Ms. Dow ...I do have a first hand knowledge of few students that were at that party . Their parents hired attorneys to shield their children from court system.


14 people like this
Posted by BayAreaReader
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

BayAreaReader is a registered user.

So, Palo Alto Mom, if I understand you correctly - these parents didn't want their kids to say anything for the defense or the prosecution? That doesn't seem right for either side of the courtroom. I have been following this case, and (just my opinion) both Mr. Turner and Ms. Doe have fault in what transpired, but I do not believe that there was an intent to commit "rape". Who knows how it will come about, and by the end of the week it will all be over an done with. In the meantime, Stanford will continue to have both girls and boys drinking too much and not knowing exactly what they are doing or saying at any given time during their party escapades.


9 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Lisa is a registered user.

Maybe it has something to do with the under age drinking in the house. I don't know Stanford's position on alcohol consumption on their campus but it cannot include the acceptance of under age drinking.
I know if there was under age drinking in my house my head would be on the chopping block.


10 people like this
Posted by BayAreaReader
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 28, 2016 at 12:51 pm

BayAreaReader is a registered user.

That's true. Anyone that is at all familiar with college life knows that drinking is, has been, and always will be a problem of some sort. Especially with young adults that are under 21. (Although the victim in this case is 22, not a Stanford student, with a boyfriend. I'm still trying to figure out why she allowed herself to get in such an alcoholic state at a frat party) Anyway, this case is indeed interesting on many different levels. I am curious to see how the jury will look at it all, and what they will say in the end.... but no matter how it comes out, no onw will be a "winner" at all.


10 people like this
Posted by myscreenname
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm

myscreenname is a registered user.

I am a little unclear on the law here. He is charged with:
1) assault with the intent to commit rape
2) sexual penetration of an intoxicated person
3) sexual penetration of an unconscious person
We know that as some point Doe was conscious and at some point she was unconscious. We know for sure she was intoxicated. Brock says he never undid his pants and there seems to be no evidence to the contrary so it is hard to see that a rape was actually committed but then again none is charged. I am not going to speculate on the definition of penetration so what about intent to commit rape? Seems like that, and perhaps the others, comes down to did Doe give consent to the activity as Brock states. I assume that would be a good defense as it seems to be the only defense being offered. There are only two people who could know if consent was given and one has no recollection of the events. So only Brock knows. It is a "He said, she didn't say" case. To convict Brock, you have to think he is lying and basically make up your own story of what happened as there is no evidence other than speculation. I am not going to condone rape but I think it would be sad to take what some people say was a person perhaps going to the Olympics and put him in jail because we don't believe his side of the story when there is no other side. The point is, nobody knows what happened except Brock and we can all chose to believe him or not but are we going to put him in jail because we don't believe him and instead believe our imagination. There is no charge of rape. Don't say if he gets off he got away with rape. He is not charged with rape. Very troubling case.


4 people like this
Posted by CoachFromAnotherTown
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm

CoachFromAnotherTown is a registered user.

Most of my other posts have shown outrage at the accused. However I was once called to Jury duty at 401 Broadway in Redwood City. The victim was a pretty blonde girl. The accused was a young African Adult male. They were both about 20 yrs old. The trial was dreadfully boring because each day, nothing changed.

Except the day the young female took the stand under cross examination. It was so tough to see her struggle with the hard questions and then it happened.

She broke down sobbing and said the party that she was at - she drank for hours and hours and in the end she said she knew she had been with many boys at the party not just the accused and she did not really recognize the young man in the courtroom. She sobbed that her family requested that she continue forth so they could get justice. But in the end I myself could not find any justice because the incident itself had so many "he said - she said".

I cannot predict the outcome of this case but his punishment may be less than what one side is wishing for.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto mom
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Palo Alto mom is a registered user.

From the closing arguments presented today it appears that the prosecutor would like to have her cake and eat it to! For example: the statements the sister of Ms. Doe made. On one hand the prosecutor claims that the sister's stateman about the well being of Ms. Doe at the party " she looked fine" should be considered while also claiming that only Turner could have the first hand knowledge of Ms. Doe condition and not Ms. Doe's sister. I truly think that the detectives failed in their job to gather ALL the evidence in this case!
[Portion removed.]

And that I hope will be a lesson to all involved to drink less next time!


4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Question: why is it that the identity of one person is revealed and the identity of the other is protected? Why not protect both young adults until a verdict is reached? From what I have read the entire episode is horrible and heartbreaking. My question is not in defense of the accused; it is just one of fairness while the legal process is unfolding. Even if the young man is acquitted he will carry this shame and have a difficult time rebuilding his life and reputation. At least the young woman's name is protected and she can begin to rebuild her life with the benefit of anonymity.


3 people like this
Posted by Number612
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 3, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Number612 is a registered user.

After the guilty verdict was given in the Brock Turner trial late last Wednesday afternoon I looked at your reporting of the trial. As one of the members of the jury in this trial I want to commend you on the accuracy and objectivity of your reporting. This was in contrast to some other reports which did not even get the charges correct i.e. reporting rape vs the actual charge of intent to rape.

Thank you - based on this I will certainly look to you for reliable information and reporting in the future.


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

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