A state appellate court panel Tuesday upheld the sentence of the “monster” convicted of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from her bed in Northridge and sexually assaulting her at various locations.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal cited “overwhelming evidence” in the case against Tobias Dustin Summers, who is serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
At Summers’ sentencing in October 2015, the judge called him a “predator in every sense of the word.” He ordered the defendant to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 14 potential life prison terms.
The girl’s father said his daughter is a “survivor” who insisted on testifying against Summers to ensure that he did not get out from behind bars.
“He is a monster,” the father said. “He is a danger to everybody. If he ever gets out, he will do it again.”
Fidgeting before she spoke, the girl said, “It was not right. No one should ever have to go through that, ever. I hope he goes away forever …”
The appeals court justices rejected the defense’s contention that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen violated Summers’ right to present a defense and to confront witnesses by limiting the defense’s questioning of some DNA experts.
“While DNA can often be powerful evidence against a criminal defendant, the DNA evidence in this case was not critical to the prosecution,” the appellate court justices wrote in their 20-page ruling.
“Even excluding all forms of DNA analysis, defendant’s guilt was overwhelmingly demonstrated by victim identification testimony, circumstantial evidence, (the victim’s) toxicology reports, corroborating witnesses, and defendant’s own testimony and statements.”
The girl testified during the trial, telling jurors that she was led from her home in the dark in the early morning hours of March 27, 2013, and told to get into a car driven by another man, who got out of the vehicle after her assailant said he was going to drop her off at a fire station.
“Were you scared?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” the girl responded.
She said she “wanted to go home.”
The girl’s mother testified that she woke up, heard noises in her daughter’s room and saw the family’s dog trying to get at the girl’s pet hamster, then realized that her daughter was not in bed.
She started screaming her daughter’s name and called 911 after not being able to find the girl. Jurors heard a recording of the woman’s emotional 911 call reporting her daughter’s disappearance.
Summers was arrested almost a month later at a drug and rehabilitation center south of Tijuana, Mexico. He told jurors that the girl “looked like a little version of my mom.”
His trial attorney, Jeff Yanuck, suggested that someone else assaulted the girl and that his client had saved her.
There was “no sperm, no saliva or any blood of Mr. Summers anywhere,” the defense lawyer told jurors. “He chose to tell you what happened. Mr. Summers told you that he did not have any inappropriate touching of (the girl) and the DNA evidence supports that.”
Deputy District Attorney Laura Knight contended that Summers washed DNA evidence off the girl at a vacant house — one of the locations the girl was taken.
A small amount of DNA on the girl’s face was tested and found to be male. Summers could not be excluded as a contributor, while DNA on the girl’s shorts was “found consistent with the defendant,” the prosecutor said.
“He kidnapped, he raped her, he sexually assaulted her … He would have you believe that, somehow, he saved her life,” Knight told the jury that convicted Summers in September 2015 of more than 30 counts, including aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Jurors also found true allegations that he had used a knife and belt and that she had been bound or tied during some of the crimes.
Daniel Martinez, who was charged along with Summers, was convicted separately of burglary but acquitted of the girl’s kidnapping. He was sentenced to six years behind bars, and his appeals have been denied.
— Staff and wire reports
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