Teens must stand trial in gang-rape case

Deepa Bharath

Three teens accused of gang-raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl in a Corona del Mar home last July must stand trial, a judge ruled

Wednesday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey, while remarking

that the boys used the victim "like a piece of meat," said sufficient

evidence exists to order Gregory Haidl, 17, and Kyle Nachreiner and

Keith Spann, both 18, to trial.

The judge watched a 20-minute videotape the teens reportedly made

that captured the incident in lurid detail. He also heard arguments

from the prosecutor and defense attorneys and listened to testimony

from police investigators for about three and a half days before

ruling Wednesday.

The three Inland Valley teens -- who were all 17 at the time --

face 24 counts since Dickey dismissed one count of digital

penetration against each defendant. Haidl, son of Orange County

Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, and Nachreiner face additional

enhancements for allegedly inflicting great bodily injury to the

victim and using a deadly weapon -- in this case a pool cue -- to

penetrate her.

As a result, the two face a maximum of 104 years to life, while

Spann faces up to 154 years, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jana Hoffmann said.

She said that leaves Haidl and Nachreiner the possibility of serving

life sentences because they "personally used" the pool cue.

The trio, students at Rancho Cucamonga High School, will be tried

as adults for the July 6 incident that reportedly happened in Don

Haidl's Corona del Mar home.

Defense attorneys for the teens argued that the girl voluntarily

packed her bag for the weekend and drove to Corona del Mar with the

intention of "having sex" with Spann. They painted a picture of a

group of adolescents experimenting with sex, spurred on by hormones

and alcohol.

Earlier, Newport Beach Police detectives testified that the victim

did not seem eager to proceed with the case and admitted to having

sex with two of the defendants in the days leading up to the alleged

attack. One of those liaisons, she told investigators, was also

captured on video tape.

Newport Beach Police Detective Teri Fischer also testified that

the girl told her she drove to the Haidl home the night of July 5

after her shift as a waitress at a San Bernardino County restaurant.

The girl also said she remembers drinking a beer and a mixed drink,

but that she does not remember much else about the night, Fischer

said.

Before the girl drank the mixed drink, Fischer said, one of the

boys warned her it was so strong she would probably pass out.

"Whatever," the girl responded, Fischer testified.

David Macher, Haidl's attorney, said Wednesday that there is no

evidence to show the victim suffered great bodily injury.

"Great bodily injury must be significant and substantial

injuries," he said. "In this case, it's microscopic. It's minor. It's

trivial."

Hoffmann argued that a pool cue could be used as a deadly weapon

just as any innocuous object can be used to inflict injury.

She said the teens merely wanted to "see how much they could get

away with."

"They were using her as an object for their enjoyment," Hoffmann

said.

Judge Dickey echoed the prosecutor's statements with his remarks

that accompanied his ruling. He said the videotape made it obvious

that the girl was unconscious and not in a position to exercise her

free will.

Although she appeared to be conscious in the first third of the

tape, she appeared limp and out of it the rest of the time, giving

him reason to believe her drink was probably spiked, Dickey said.

"Any free will was long gone by the time you watch the last

two-thirds of the tape," he said. "None of the defendants seem as

intoxicated as she is. It's quite obvious that something rendered her

unconscious."

The boys are free on $100,000 bail each and are scheduled to be

arraigned in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana on Feb. 11.

DEEPA BHARATH covers public safety and courts. She may be reached

at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at deepa.bharath@latimes.com.

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