An Arroyo Grande man broke into two San Luis Obispo homes last July and held a knife to the throat of two women while they were in bed, raping one of the victims, police investigators testified on Monday. [Tribune]
Last July, two similar home invasions and assaults took place in a five-day span in San Luis Obispo. On July 8 and July 13, a man broke into a home early in the morning, entered the bedroom of a sleeping woman and sexually assaulted or attempted to sexually assault the woman at knifepoint, according to police.
Arthur Tiofila Rocha, 40, is accused of carrying out both attacks. Rocha is charged with 24 felonies, including a count of forcible rape, for which alone he faces up to terms of life in prison if convicted.
On Monday, five officers who investigated the two attacks testified during a preliminary hearing. The testimony included officers saying that DNA found on a knife and glove left behind after the crimes matched that of Rocha or someone in his immediate family.
Officer Kylee Bailey, who responded to the July 8 incident, testified that one of the victims was sharing her bed with a friend, who was staying the night at her home. The two females awoke to a man in the bed on top of one of the women. The man was choking the woman and holding a knife to her throat, Bailey testified
The victims told Bailey that the man said, “Shut the fuck up or I’ll kill you both.”
Somehow, the women managed to fight off the man, break free and flee to a neighbor’s apartment. The two women did not report that the attacker sexually assaulted them.
But, Bailey also testified that investigators found a piece of a latex glove entangled on a nearby fence, which was in close proximity to one of the women’s cell phones, a five-inch switchblade knife, an opened but unused condom and several zip-ties. Likewise, Officer Crystal Locarnini testified she found a pair of black shorts that contained unopened condoms.
Also, Detective Miguel Lozano testified that a woman who was opening a nearby business the morning of the attack saw a Hispanic male running away from the scene wearing a black shirt, black socks and no pants.
Former police detective Amy Chastain, who is now a district attorney’s investigator, gave testimony about the July 13 incident. The alleged victim of that incident told Chastain she was sleeping in her bed when she awoke to a man on top of her covering her mouth.
The man told her not to speak, and he pulled off her pajama bottoms before penetrating her with his fingers and penis and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, Chastain testified.
After the man fled, officers found a glove and a pair of black socks in the victim’s room.
Chastain said the gloves and switchblade knife that officers found were sent to the California Department of Justice crime lab in Goleta. Lab tests found DNA on the knife that matched Rocha and DNA on the glove that belonged to either or Rocha or a relative of his.
Rocha’s attorney, Matthew Kraut, argued investigators did not follow up on potential leads, such as two passersby who later reported seeing a dark figure lurking around the area of the first attack and several Hispanic men who had eradicated termites at the first victims’ apartment days prior to the incident. Under cross examination by Kraut, Chastain testified that the victim in the second attack failed to identify Rocha as her attacker when shown a photo.
After listening to the evidence, Judge Jacquelyn Duffy ruled there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.