LANCASTER – A 30-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a girl on her way to school in Lancaster last year will stand trial, a superior court judge ruled Monday.
Charles Delshawn James was ordered to trial on six felony counts, including two counts of kidnapping to commit another crime, one count of sexual penetration by foreign object, one count of sodomy by use of force, one count of committing a lewd act upon a child, and one count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.
The judge’s decision concluded an hour-long preliminary hearing that included a graphic account of what the 14-year-old victim told investigators about the alleged sexual assault.
The victim said, between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, she was walking to Eastside High School on her way to a zero-period class, according to testimony by Detective John Amis of the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victim’s Bureau.
The girl was walking eastbound on Avenue J-8 listening to music from her phone, via ear buds, when she noticed someone walking behind her, Amis testified. The girl told investigators the man was wearing a brown hooded jacket and dark pants. As the victim got closer to a mobile park, she shut her music off and crossed the street to avoid the suspect, but the suspect continued to follow her, Amis testified.
The victim reached for her phone to call her mom, and the suspect caught up to her. He grabbed her by the ponytail and right shoulder and began dragging her back across the street, Amis testified. The victim’s notebook, cell phone and purse dropped on the street during the struggle, Amis testified.
“The individual told her to shut up or he would kill her,” Amis said.
The victim was pushed up against a brick wall, behind some oleander bushes that were tall enough to hide two people, Amis said, adding that the suspect was behind the victim.
The suspect said, “Do you have d**k on your mind this morning?” before forcefully pulling open the victim’s shirt and putting his mouth on her left breast, as he restrained her from behind, Amis testified.
Amis proceeded to give a graphic account of the repeated sexual assault.
“She said it was painful and she was crying,” Amis testified. Amis said the victim was able to see a part of the suspect’s face and she did not recognize him. The suspect told the victim he knew her, knew her family and knew where she lived, Amis said.
When the suspect finished the sexual assault, he grabbed the girl’s belongings from in the street and ran west, Amis said. The girl ran in the opposite direction and knocked on the door of the first house she saw, Amis testified. The girl was able to get a phone to call her mom for help, but there was no answer, Amis said.
The Lancaster Sheriff’s Station was contacted, and the girl was taken to Antelope Valley hospital for treatment, Amis said.
Nearly two weeks after the incident, sheriff’s detectives used several “investigative tools” to identify James as a suspect in the sexual assault, officials said at the time. On Dec. 27, 2012, James was arrested in Greenville, South Carolina, where he had been visiting relatives for the holidays. (Read more here.) He was extradited back to California about a week after.
During Monday’s preliminary hearing, Amis said he interviewed James in the Greenville South Carolina detention facility, before James was extradited back to California. He also testified that authorities took an oral swab from James’ cheek on Jan. 4, 2013.
The oral reference from James was used to generate a DNA profile, according to testimony from Kenneth Takigawa, Senior Criminologist with the Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities also obtained a “blood reference” from the victim, along with a swab from the victim’s left breast, where “saliva was indicated,” Takigawa testified.
“Basically I compared them all against each other,” Takigawa said, adding that the DNA evidence matched.
During cross examination, James’ defense attorney argued that the victim was shown a photo line-up that included James, but the victim was unable to identify James from the photo line-up.
James’ defense attorney also argued that the first DNA sample tested from James had returned an “unexpected result”, forcing investigators to halt the case because the sample had been contaminated.
Takigawa said technicians tested a second oral reference from James, which was not contaminated. That second sample matched DNA evidence taken from the victim, Takigawa said.
The defense’s motion to dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence was denied. James was held to answer on all counts and ordered back to custody on $2.3 million bail.
James is due back in court on Wednesday, February 20, for a second arraignment.