Woman testifies over sex assault near Rosecrans
by Neal Putnam
Published - 10/30/13 - 02:34 PM | 3859 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 30-year-old La Jolla woman has identified a man whom she said raped her behind a closed restaurant on Pacific Highway near Rosecrans Street. He has been ordered to stand trial on four charges.

The victim told San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber that Michael Meretse Tesfa, 22, also robbed her of her iPhone, backpack and most of her clothing after he ran off on March 18.

Weber ordered Tesfa to stand trial for rape, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment on Oct. 3 at the end of a preliminary hearing. Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth McClutchey an-nounced she may file a charge of kidnapping for rape, an offense that carries a life sentence. A trial date of Jan. 24 was set on Oct. 17 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Walsh. Tesfa has pleaded not guilty.

The sexual assault took place behind Perry’s Café, which is open for breakfast and lunch, but is closed at night. The woman said she was in the area after taking the wrong bus and ended up at the Old Town Trolley Station, which is close to the restaurant.

She testified she met Tesfa earlier in the evening and she declined his invitation to go to a hotel. She said at that point “he was very charming, very friendly.” The victim became anxious as she started to recount the steps leading to the rape, and a recess was called.

She returned and testified she and Tesfa were walking to the trolley station and they both sat on a bench in front of the closed restaurant. She said she was looking at bus schedules and was startled when “he hit me in the face with a closed fist.”

The victim said he pulled and dragged her to the back of the restaurant at an indented area.

“It was really scary back there — no light. It was a place where nobody could see me or hear me scream,” she said.

She said the stench of urine was strong and there were old clothes that were abandoned by homeless people.

“He shoved me down on the ground. I started screaming for help. He was stronger than me,” she said.

The woman said he punched her six times and pulled her clothing off her.

“It felt like forever. I was crying. He was continuing to hit me. I was screaming.”

She said he suddenly stopped, zipped up his pants, and “took off toward a canyon toward Pacific Highway” with her clothing and iPhone.

She said she grabbed a dirty long sleeve shirt on the ground and put her legs through the sleeves. She ran toward a liquor store on Rosecrans Street and asked that someone call police.

She was taken to a hospital. She had a black eye, and lost part of a tooth. She had glass in one foot from broken glass on the ground.

A stipulation between the prosecutor and defense attorney Euketa Oliver was read into the record indicating that DNA from Tesfa matches semen that was found during an exam of the victim.

San Diego Police officer Ryan Schultz testified he responded to the 9-1-1 call and found Tesfa in a dry riverbed. He said Tesfa was “sweating profusely” when he saw him and noticed he was wearing a black backpack and holding a pink jacket.

Tesfa dropped the backpack and ran when he saw the officer, but Schultz said he caught up to him and arrested him. Schultz said he secured the victim’s property. He said the victim identified Tesfa as the suspect at a curbside line up.

Tesfa’s mother attended the hearing. He is on probation for punching his mother in the face in a misdemeanor battery case in 2012, according to court records.

He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $750,000 bail.

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