She said two words repeatedly in the car ride from her south Sacramento apartment Thanksgiving Day 2010, her son testified Tuesday: “Rape,” was the first word, then, “police.”
Trial began Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court for former Sacramento police officer Gary Dale Baker, who was arrested in 2012 on allegations he repeatedly raped a septuagenarian stroke victim.
Baker was a 22-year Sacramento Police Department veteran when he was fired from the force in December 2012. His dismissal came after a departmental investigation into alleged off-duty attacks against the woman at her apartment in a Florin Road-area senior living community in November 2010 and again in September and December 2012.
The first of the alleged attacks came about a year after the woman suffered a debilitating 2009 stroke at age 74 that left her with aphasia, a condition that leaves a person largely unable to speak or comprehend spoken or written words.
Baker faces 10 counts in all including allegations of rape, forcible oral copulation, assault with intent to commit rape and burglary connected to the incidents in the trial before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ernest Sawtelle.
Baker, dressed in a dark suit and wearing horn-rimmed glasses, listened intently beside defense counsel Linda Parisi. Parisi said in her opening statement that Baker had a “casual relationship” with the older woman that included sex.
“There’s no attempt to hide what happened,” Parisi said of December 2012 interviews with police and video of Baker walking to the woman’s apartment that prompted them to call the officer in for questioning. “He does nothing to conceal himself. This is conduct that is more consistent with a consensual relationship.”
Parisi said the woman’s aphasia required family members to try to interpret what she said and meant and that they were often at a loss to do so.
“There were a bunch of words used and family members try to interpret an event from them,” Parisi said. “They’ll tell you they can’t figure it out. We can’t fill in the gaps just as the family can’t fill in the gaps.”
But Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday’s opening statement methodically laid out the timeline from the alleged attacks to the woman’s labored, tearful statements to family members to the December 2012 police interviews that led to the arrest of one of their own on suspicion of rape.
Holliday said the stroke left the woman, referred to in court as “Jane Doe,” mostly unable to speak, but that on Thanksgiving in 2010, she said the word “rape,” then “police,” to a son and his son-in-law.
“I said, ‘Who got raped? Did you get raped?’ ” son Joseph Ramos testified Tuesday. “I got upset. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. Police? Rape?”
Physical examinations and crime lab analysis found evidence of bodily fluids and trauma, Holliday said, but no suspects were identified, the investigation grew cold and was suspended later in 2010. Nearly two years later, in September 2012, a tearful Doe called family again, Holliday said.
Family members thought their mother barely three years removed from her stroke was flashing back to 2010, but she insisted differently.
“The same,” she said, then, “police,” and, finally, “No!” Holliday said.
No facts could support Doe’s claims. But family members took her to a local hospital’s emergency room, where another examination was taken and the trauma found during the exam launched a follow-up police investigation to the woman’s 2010 report.
Just months later, in December 2012, investigators received a break. Doe said the man she claimed attacked her in 2010 and in September 2012 had returned and tried to get into her apartment. Police and relatives tried to craft a safety plan and an officer suggested mounting a game camera – a camera hunters use to track prey in the wilderness – at the apartment.
The man returned to the apartment and police later identified the man in the video as Baker, Holliday said. In an interview with police, Baker said he met and talked with Doe but had never had any physical contact with her. Baker revised that in a second interview to say he had sexual contact with her, attempting but not completing intercourse.
The second interview was enough for police to arrest Baker.