VAN NUYS : Man Admits Torture, Blames Cocaine Use

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A trial prosecutor said Tuesday that a transient lured a female acquaintance to a North Hollywood warehouse where he smashed her on the head with a baseball bat and sexually assaulted her for five hours. The defense agreed.

After Deputy Dist. Atty. Peter Berman recounted the offenses, the attorney representing James Thomas Hernandez admitted to the jury that “my client did any number of heinous crimes to the victim.”

“He’s guilty of most the crimes alleged, there’s no doubt about it,” said attorney Craig Robinson.


The tale of torture, followed by the unusual acknowledgment of the crimes by a defendant, came on the first day of Hernandez’s trial in Van Nuys Superior Court. Hernandez, 30, faces life in prison if convicted of either aggravated mayhem or kidnaping in the March 27 incident.

Hernandez bound the woman with duct tape and rope, Berman said. During the assault and between puffs on a cocaine pipe, he tortured the woman by applying electrical shocks to her breasts, according to the prosecutor.

Although he confessed to police hours after the attack, Hernandez should be found not guilty on some of the charges because he was under the influence of cocaine, Robinson said.

“The effect (of the drug) was so great that my client was so delusionary that he still thinks some of these acts were consensual,” Robinson said.