Jury deliberations begin in Rancho Penasquitos rape trial

SAN DIEGO - A 17-year-old boy conspired with a friend to kidnap and rape two girls in a Rancho Penasquitos park last year, a prosecutor said Wednesday, but a defense attorney said there was no plan to attack the teens.

William Steven Rodriguez faces 21 charges, including rape, sodomy by force and kidnapping. Rodriguez is being prosecuted as an adult, as is 17-year-old co-defendant Leonel Contreras, and faces up to 325 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick.

A separate jury is hearing the evidence in Contreras' trial, which is continuing in the courtroom of Judge Peter Deddeh, where Rodriguez's jury is now deliberating.

In her closing argument, Patrick said the defendants had a plan to assault the girls on Sept. 3, 2011, and Contreras told Rodriguez that he had a knife.

"We have an expressed agreement beforehand," the prosecutor said.

But Rodriguez's attorney, Dana Feuling, said there was no conspiracy between the defendants and that her client acted on "impulse."

She said Rodriguez cooperated after his arrest and admitted what he did.

"(Expletive) happens," Rodriguez told police. "The body is weak when it sees flesh."

Feuling said Rodriguez was not guilty of sodomy, rape by a foreign object or conspiracy.

"He shouldn't be charged with more than he's actually responsible for," the defense attorney said.

Patrick told jurors in her opening statement that the victims, then 15 and 16 years old, were friends who went to a family party on Sept. 3, 2011, in the 12600 block of Spindletop Road.

"They shared a passion for life, family and the Christian faith," Patrick said. "The two defendants took their innocence from them."

The prosecutor said Rodriguez and Contreras were out smoking marijuana when they spotted the two girls as they took a nighttime walk along a greenbelt running behind a residential neighborhood.

The boys accosted them, with Contreras holding a knife, and forced them to a more secluded area, using threats to make them stay quiet, she alleged.

According to the prosecutor, the defendants subjected them to "a brutal 30- to 40-minute series of sexual assaults that included every imaginable kind of rape."

Patrick said graffiti found in the open space resulted in a tip that led investigators to Rodriguez, who told police what happened. Police then tracked down Contreras.

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