Steven Neff admitted on the stand last week that he injected at least four women with the high-powered tranquilizer Ketamine. But, despite claims by prosecutors, Neff said three attacks on women he didn’t know weren’t in aid of sexual acts. Instead, he said, they were the fulfillment of a storyline that he, who’d studied writing, had created in his mind.
Neff, who took the stand in the midst of closing arguments and against his attorney’s advice, said he was acting as the protagonist in this story-a man in pursuit of an endless, worldwide surfing and snowboarding trip. To fund the journeys, he explained, he would commit the “perfect crime” by injecting older women with Ketamine before stealing their room keys, entering their rooms, and taking credit cards and valuables. He admitted the crimes “were unconscionable, yes, but untraceable.”
This scenario is what he said he had in mind when he attacked a 20-year-old running on Haskell’s Beach in 2002, mistaking her for a woman twice her age. It is also what he had in mind when he injected an elderly French tourist on East Beach and a skier on Mammoth Mountain that same year. Yet in none of the attacks did he steal anything, he admitted. DNA evidence found on the runner’s shorts was the result of an adrenaline-fueled moment-one he admitted had “an erotic edge” to it-when Neff, who proclaimed himself a compulsive masturbator, said he decided to gratify himself while on top of his unconscious victim. What he did not do, he said, in an attempt to distance himself from the criminal count of attempted sexual penetration, was touch the woman’s breasts or try to pull down her running pants. He is not facing charges for attacking the women with Ketamine because the statute of limitations has expired for these crimes.
In order to show that these attacks mirrored Neff’s sexual fantasies, prosecutor Ron Zonen introduced several journals Neff had kept over the course of a decade. In 1998, Neff described a character who was “: planning to chloroform women and gratify himself with their unconscious bodies.” Another entry described a dream where he spied on a former girlfriend and raped her. Neff testified that over a one-and-a-half year period with another ex-girlfriend, he injected her with Ketamine roughly 75 times, often having sexual intercourse with her in an unconscious state.
Neff is also being tried for a crime he allegedly committed against a former coworker. Earlier in the trial, the alleged victim said that, after they had drunk alcohol and smoked marijuana, she felt a pain in her neck and soon lost her ability to function. The woman told jurors she believes he proceeded to hit her and bind her, eventually giving her an enema that caused her to lose control of her bowels. She then felt what she thought were her own feces on her face, and thought he had it on his face as well.
Neff, who has previously been convicted of two nonsexual-related felonies, denies any inappropriate activity. He told the jury the coworker was fine when he drove her back to her apartment later that night. Neff also claimed that the coworker had fallen and hit her head at the apartment when he, suspecting she was using drugs, confronted her in the bathroom. He said she lost consciousness for a short time before coming to and leaving for a party. The woman’s roommate testified that she had a bump on her head that night, but that there was no distinct smell about her.
“She is resolute in her belief and her commitment that this man sexually abused her,” Zonen said, noting that she had accused Neff of injecting her with a drug with no knowledge beforehand of his prior convictions and “no way of knowing who he is and what he was.” Defense attorney Michael Hanley countered, saying, “No one can contest that these were horrible things he did,” and asked the jury to follow the law, not their feelings, when deciding his client’s fate. While Neff’s actions were indeed horrible, he did not intend to sexually penetrate his victims, Hanley argued