Following the assault and attempted rape of a 19-year-old Santa Barbara woman in September 2018, Angel Anthony Richard Sanchez, 29, was convicted Friday on five charges, including kidnap for rape, possession of a dirk or dagger, resisting arrest, attempting to dissuade a witness from reporting a crime, and assault with intent to commit rape with a special allegation of using a dangerous weapon.
Over the course of the trial, which lasted about two weeks, Sanchez never testified. Public Defender Mark Owens claimed his client, Sanchez, was not responsible for the assault and reportedly called the situation a “classic case of mistaken identity” because of how general the victim’s description was of his physical appearance and bicycle, and how dark it was at the time the crime took place.
The victim testified she was walking down the 3700 block of State Street around 11:30 p.m. on September 2, 2018, to get money from a nearby ATM when the attack happened, according to Sarah Sinclair, a juror in the trial who works at the Santa Barbara Independent.
The victim told the jury she was speaking to a friend over the phone when Sanchez (a stranger to the victim) came up behind her on a blue bike and repeatedly asked her personal questions that she declined to answer. She said he became even more insistent and blocked her path with his bicycle before taking her phone and keys and throwing them out of reach. The victim then testified that Sanchez lifted his shirt to reveal a knife in his right pocket and threatened her with it.
The victim next testified that Sanchez dragged her by the neck of her hoodie into the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts, where he removed her shorts and underwear. A Good Samaritan, who asked to remain anonymous in the press, heard her screams from the Bank of America across the street and drove into the Dunkin’ Donuts lot. The headlights of his car scared off Sanchez before he could complete the assault, and the Good Samaritan called 9-1-1 and waited with the victim until police arrived.
The victim described her attacker to the police as a Hispanic male in his twenties with a gray hoodie, mustache, and goatee, riding a blue bike. Although Sanchez largely matches the description, he does not have a goatee. According to prosecutor Jennifer Karapetian, the victim did testify that she is “bad at describing things” but nonetheless immediately picked Sanchez out of a lineup.
Plainclothes police located and arrested Sanchez at the nearby Rusty’s Pizza Parlor, also on the 3700 block of State Street, the following day, September 3, 2018, at 8:30 p.m. Officers said they saw a man matching the victim’s description of her assailant accompanied by another man in the Rusty’s parking lot doing what appeared to be maintenance on a car.
Aside from the missing goatee, Sanchez’s clothing and physical appearance matched the physical description the victim gave police. The police were also able to later obtain Sanchez’s phone and keys, which were in the other man’s car. Police discovered Sanchez’s key matched that of a U-shaped bike lock for his blue bicycle, as the victim also described.
When confronted with questions about an incident the night before, Sanchez immediately tried to flee on foot. Officers tripped him, held him down, and punched him in the face before detaining him.
Part of Sanchez’s defense was a claim the police used excessive force, but the police report of September 6 stated Sanchez attempted to grab a concealed knife from his pocket during the struggle, which prompted their use of force. The knife was found in his right pocket, which also matched the victim’s description.
Sanchez was found guilty unanimously by the jury. His sentence will be determined by Judge Von Deroian at an undetermined later date.
Victims of rape and other forms of assault can find help at Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), formerly known as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, at (805) 963-6832. See sbstesa.org for more.