Trial to begin in gang rape at Richmond school 

More than two years after the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside a Richmond High School homecoming dance, two men are expected to go on trial Monday for their alleged participation in the community-galvanizing crime.

Opening statements are scheduled in Contra Costa County Superior Court in the jury trial of 22-year-old Richmond resident Jose Montano and 20-year-old Marcelles Peter of Pinole. They were among a group of six men and teenagers charged with attacking the heavily intoxicated girl, whom authorities say was beaten, robbed and sexually abused over two hours while as many as 20 other people watched.

Reflecting the intense community reaction to the October 2009 attack, the two juries that will be deliberating at the rare dual trial took four months and a pool of 900 potential jurors to seat. Defense lawyers had sought a change of venue due to the attention the case has received.

Two other defendants took plea deals and received prison sentences of 27 years and 32 years for convictions of rape in concert and forcible oral copulation in concert. The remaining two are awaiting trial dates.

Prosecutors elected to try the men together but with two juries because they have evidence that could be deemed inadmissible for one of them, but not the other, according to the Times. The panels will hear most of the same testimony, but deliberate separately after sitting through different open statements and closing arguments.

The trial is expected to last until mid-July and the victim is expected to take the witness stand.

She received $4 million to settle a lawsuit against the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

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