A 21-year-old man faces up to life in prison if convicted of charges that he raped a woman at gunpoint near her East Palo Alto home Thursday night, a San Mateo County deputy district attorney said Tuesday.
East Palo Alto resident Etuati Kitieona Umaleava has been charged with one count of kidnapping for the purpose of committing sexual assault, two counts of forcible oral copulation and one count of forcible rape, all committed with the use of a firearm, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Umaleava appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court to be arraigned Monday, but his case was continued until Sept. 3 for entry of plea and appearance of his court-appointed attorney, Wagstaffe said.
Umaleava was arrested several hours after the 20-year-old victim was allegedly approached outside of her home, Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe said the victim was talking on her cell phone in front of the home around midnight Thursday when a man holding a sawed-off shotgun ordered her to accompany him to an alley about half a block down the street.
The suspect held the shotgun as he disrobed, ordered the victim to undress and then sexually assaulted her multiple times, Wagstaffe said.
The suspect allegedly threatened the victim with the shotgun several times during the attack, saying that he would kill her and her family if she did not comply, according to Wagstaffe.
The man then dressed and left the area, leaving behind his socks, Wagstaffe said.
The victim ran home and called police.
Officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Holland Avenue in response to her call shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, police said.
The victim reported the assault and described her attacker as a Pacific Islander man between 20 and 21 years old, standing 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds and wearing a khaki-colored jacket, white shirt and blue jean shorts, police said.
Officers collected the woman's clothing and her attacker's socks, which may provide DNA evidence in the case, Wagstaffe said. Officers also noticed the victim had foxtails on her clothing.
Around 5 a.m., a patrol officer noticed a man who matched the suspect's description walking in the 2300 block of Clarke Avenue, police said.
The man was seen entering an apartment, Wagstaffe said. The officer knocked on the door of the apartment and was granted entry by a woman who answered.
The officer noticed Umaleava inside and observed that he matched the suspect description and had foxtails in his hair, Wagstaffe said.
Police detained and questioned Umaleava, who initially denied being in the area but then admitted he had approached the woman and said he asked to borrow her phone, according to Wagstaffe.
Umaleava told investigators the victim consented to sexual intercourse, but maintained that he did not know the victim prior to that
night, Wagstaffe said.
Investigators recovered the shotgun allegedly used in the attack, which Wagstaffe said Umaleava had given to a friend. Investigators are working to determine if the attack was random and what connection the suspect had to the area, Wagstaffe said. Both the suspect and victim said they did not know each other.
He remains in San Mateo County jail on $2 million bail.
Defense attorney Leland Davis III has been assigned to Umaleava's case, according to the San Mateo County Private Defender Program office, but he could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
-Bay City News Service