A man chose a Northridge home at random and kidnapped a 10-year-old girl from her bed, threatening her with a knife and then repeatedly sexually assaulting her in his car, a storage yard, a drainage tunnel and a vacant house, a prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments Monday.
A defense attorney countered that there was no credible DNA evidence that his client, Tobias Dustin Summers, 34, was involved in any sexual assault and that the girl first told police that Summers was a man who had helped her, dropping her off at a hospital.
Deputy District Attorney Laura Knight told the jury panel that Summers told his friend, Danny Martinez, “we’re going to do some gangster (stuff),” and then had Martinez drive him to the house on March 27, 2013.
When Summers came out with the girl and met Martinez in the alley, he lied to his friend telling him the girl was awake and he had to take her, but would drop her off at a hospital or fire station, according to Knight.
Martinez drove Summers’ red Pontiac Sunfire a short while and then got out of the car.
“Within minutes of getting (her) alone,” Summers began assaulting her, Knight told the seven-woman, five-man jury panel.
Summers is charged with 16 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, 14 counts of oral copulation/sexual penetration with a child 10 or younger, two counts of sex/sodomy with a child 10 or younger and one count each of kidnapping, kidnapping to commit another crime, first-degree burglary, forcible lewd acts upon a child, using a minor for sex acts and possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct.
Summers is also facing allegations that he committed several of the crimes during the commission of a burglary and while using a knife.
Knight walked jurors through each of the acts, stopping to remind them of the girl’s testimony that Summers was hurting her and began to hit her when she complained.
Summers used a belt as a weapon and a restraint, using it to secure a gag in her mouth at one point, choking her with at another, Knight alleged.
“He hit her in the face with that belt,” the prosecutor said.
“He likes pre-teen girls,” Knight said, telling jurors that Summers used web software to try and hide his history of browsing child porn on his laptop.
Summers took naked pictures of the girl and threatened her, the prosecutor said.
“If she tells anybody … he’ll post the pictures,” Knight said he threatened.
The camera has not been found. Knight said Summers called his mother from jail and told her he had hidden something away that he planned to use for leverage.
At one point, Summers forced the girl into the trunk of his car.
She identified objects from the trunk for police, Summers’ phone SIM card was found at the storage yard and the girl remembered a tattoo of Superman he had on his chest.
After being assaulted in an underground tunnel, the girl told Summers she was feeling sick and he offered her pills, telling her “either take the medication or he can hit her to make her feel better,” Knight said. Then he punched her in the face, according to the prosecutor.
At the vacant house, he allegedly washed DNA evidence off the girl.
“At every single location, he’s covering his tracks,” the prosecutor said.
They hear helicopters outside the house, according to Knight, who said Summers believed snipers were on the lookout for him.
He ultimately drops the girl near a hospital that she fails to find and she walked to a Starbucks where police officers approached her.
A small amount of DNA on her face was tested and found to be male. The defendant could not be excluded as a contributor, Knight said. DNA on her shorts was “found consistent with the defendant,” the prosecutor said.
Summers’ laptop browser history shows that after the kidnapping he was searching out media stories about the girl, looking to sell his car and get a rush passport and looking into how to join the French Foreign Legion, Knight said.
A friend drove him to the Mexican border and lied to police for more than a day before finding a knife in his car and turning it over, the prosecutor said.
“He kidnapped, he raped her, he sexually assaulted her” in all these locations and “he would have you believe that, somehow, he saved her life,” Knight said.
Defense attorney Jeff Yanuck told the jurors that when the girl first spoke to police, she told them that she was taken by a “man in a hat” in a black car and couldn’t really see what he looked like until closer to morning when she was taken to the vacant house.
Yanuck suggested it was someone else who assaulted the girl and his client who saved her.
There was “no sperm, no saliva or any blood of Mr. Summers anywhere,” Yanuck said.
Despite the police lab’s extensive efforts on the case, DNA tests first showed Summers’ DNA only on the steering wheel of his car.
Later Y-STR testing — which Yanuck called “highly sensitive” — found the DNA on the shorts and face swab.
“The results tell us that Mr. Summers could have been there,” Yanuck said, but suggested that it may have been “touch DNA” that rubbed off a shirt that Summers gave the girl to wear.
“Where is the DNA evidence that Mr. Summers sexually assaulted (her)? There is no evidence,” Yanuck said.
One witness got immunity for his testimony, after lying to police, Yanuck said, implying that Martinez and another friend may have assaulted the girl.
Martinez, who was charged along with Summers, was convicted last October of burglary but acquitted of the girl’s kidnapping. He was sentenced last November to six years behind bars.
One possibility is that “Mr. Summers did not get to the (vacant) house until after she was brought there by someone else,” Yanuck told jurors.
“His only intent was to get (her) to a place of safety.”
Yanuck also questioned how heavily jurors should rely on the testimony of a “small child” who suffered trauma and stress and is now being cheered on by support groups.
His client took the stand although he had a right not to, Yanuck pointed out.
“He chose to tell you what happened,” Yanuck said. “Mr. Summers told you that he did not have any inappropriate touching of (the girl) and the DNA evidence supports that.”
“His car was borrowed, his phone was charging in the charger, (Martinez) said he dropped the SIM card.”
“The people have not proved each and every element … beyond a reasonable doubt,” the defense attorney said. “Mr. Summers is not guilty of the crimes he stands accused of.”
Summers sat calmly throughout the closing arguments, taking notes from time to time.
After his attorney finished speaking and jurors filed out of the room, Summers shrugged his shoulders at Yanuck and then smiled slightly before being led from the room.
— City News Service
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