Man Accused of Raping Driver to Stand Trial

Times Staff Writer

A Southeast San Diego man who allegedly raped a woman whose car had broken down on Interstate 5 was ordered to stand trial on three felony charges after the woman described the attack in detail at a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Municipal Court Judge Robert G. Thaxton scheduled Nathan Hood, 21, to be arraigned in Superior Court March 11 on charges of rape, kidnaping for the purpose of robbery and attempted robbery.

The woman identified Hood as the man who stopped on the freeway, ostensibly to provide help, but then took her at gunpoint in his van to a secluded area and raped her. The defendant then returned her to her car, helped start its engine, and drove off, she testified.

The woman, a receptionist at a law firm, testified that her car broke down on Interstate 5 near the Pershing Drive exit about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21. She waited for four hours for help, she said.

"Whenever I would see a cop car go by, I would wave my hands, but they would never see me," she said. Finally, "about 10:15 p.m. I got out of my car, hoping to attract more attention, and 10 minutes later the van pulled over."

Hood told her he was a mechanic, the woman testified. "He said, 'All I want to do is help.' " She said she initially refused his offer, but he persisted, and she eventually climbed into his van, expecting to be driven to a phone.

Instead, she said, Hood pointed a small handgun at her and said, "This is a stickup." As they drove, she often pleaded, "Please don't hurt me," she said, and he responded, "I won't hurt you as long as you do as I say."

The man drove her to an area near Brown Field, she said, and ordered her into the back of the van, where he raped her.

The woman said she put up no resistance because she feared for her life. Hood drove her back to her car and used jumper cables to start the vehicle, she said. "I considered waving my arms (to attract help), but I was afraid," she said.

After returning home and describing the assault to her husband and a friend, the woman called police. Using the detailed description of the van that the woman provided, officers later apprehended Hood.

Police Detective Frank B. Zelmer testified that Hood, under interrogation, repeatedly changed his story about the night of Jan. 21. At first, Zelmer said, Hood maintained that he had driven straight home after playing bingo at a church.

Later, Hood said he helped a woman motorist start her car but indicated that she never entered his van, Zelmer testified. Later, after declaring, "I didn't rape that girl," Hood said that the woman entered the van, they drove to the Brown Field area and engaged in consensual sex, the detective said.

A toy handgun was found under the front seat of Hood's van, Zelmer said. During the interrogation, Hood acknowledged that he had the toy gun but said he never pointed it at the woman.

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