A man who had carried a knife but claimed that a woman’s request that he wear a condom demonstrated her consent was convicted Thursday of rape.
During the three-day trial, Joel Valdez, 28, argued that the woman agreed to have sex because she had asked him to use the condom.
“She told me to do her a favor. She told me to wear a condom, so I did,” Valdez testified. “We were making love after that.”
But in sometimes tearful testimony, the 26-year-old woman said she pleaded with her knife-wielding attacker to wear a condom to protect her from AIDS.
“I knew there wasn’t much I could do to prevent what was going to happen,” she said. “I thought maybe I could protect myself from dying from AIDS.”
The case gained national attention in September when a Travis County grand jury declined to indict Valdez, sparking community protests from women’s groups and the victim, who denied that her request for a condom meant she consented to sex.
A second grand jury indicted Valdez in October.
Valdez could face up to life in prison. No sentencing date was set.
During closing arguments, defense attorney Malcolm Nettles told jurors to consider that Valdez has the IQ of a 7-year-old and was intoxicated when he walked uninvited into the woman’s apartment.
“We are not saying intoxication is a defense, but when you consider that Joel Valdez drank at least a case of beer, his IQ didn’t go up. He didn’t get brighter,” Nettles said.
Prosecutor Dayna Blazey said the woman should be praised, not punished, for asking her attacker to wear a condom.
“Asking a rapist to wear a condom is not indicative of consent,” she told the jurors. “It’s only indicative of a very intelligent, very bright woman who is trying to protect herself.”
Valdez said he walked around the woman’s apartment about 3 a.m. on Sept. 16, then picked up a steak knife after becoming frightened at noise from upstairs.
The woman testified that Valdez held her at knifepoint for 45 minutes before she was able to gain control of the knife and a pair of sewing scissors and run to a neighbor’s house.