A judge on Thursday dismissed significant charges against two Inland
Valley teenagers accused of raping an unconscious girl, ruling out
the possibility of life sentences for them, if convicted.
Judge Francisco Briseno threw out infliction of great bodily
injury and use of a deadly weapon charges -- both enhancements --
against 18-year-old Greg Haidl, son of Orange County Assistant
Sheriff Don Haidl, and Kyle Nachreiner, 19.
Greg Haidl, Nachreiner and Keith Spann are accused of assaulting
the then-16-year-old girl at Don Haidl's Corona del Mar home. Greg
Haidl's father was not home at the time. The teens, then students of
Rancho Cucamonga High School, allegedly penetrated the girl with a
Thursday's decision means that Greg Haidl and Nachreiner will now
face up to 55 years and four months in prison as opposed to 70 years
to life, officials said.
A different judge, during a hearing earlier this year, had
dismissed similar enhancements against 19-year-old Spann.
Judge Briseno, who took more than three weeks to rule on the
matter and watched a 20-minute video of the alleged rape, said in a
written ruling that there is "insufficient evidence of any
significant or substantial physical injury."
But the judge also remarked that the defendants were "engaged in
alleged acts of sexual abuse and sexual degradation" of the victim
and acted with "complete disregard for the welfare of another person
who is obviously unconscious."
Still, all that does not offer evidence that the defendants
"intended to use the pool cue as a deadly weapon," the judge said.
The ruling shows that "the judge felt this was not a violent gang
rape," said Joseph Cavallo, lead attorney for Greg Haidl's defense
"The prosecution has clearly overcharged the defendants in this
case," he said. "The district attorney's office is concerned only
about the number of years, not the pursuit of justice. This decision
has rendered a devastating blow to the prosecution's case."
Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schroeder said that the ruling does
nothing more than reduce the number of years in prison the defendants
face, if convicted.
"It does not change the basic charges, and it doesn't change the
crime itself," she said. "The judge still says in his ruling that the
defendants had no regard for the victim's welfare."
Judge Briseno also denied the defense's petition to take the case
back to juvenile court, "validating that this is adult, felonious
conduct," Schroeder said.
"We intend to take this case to trial and prove the charges," she
The defense has argued that the incident was nothing but
consensual sex between four teenagers.
"This was all part of a weekend-long sexcapade by [the victim],"
He said the Haidl family is "overjoyed by the decision."
"But we're also maintaining cautious optimism because this case
isn't over," Cavallo said.
The case remains an "extremely serious case" with dire
consequences for the defendants, said John Barnett, defense attorney
"This judge's decision does rule out life sentences, which is a
significant reduction," he said. "But I don't believe it diminishes
the charges in any way."
The case is expected to go to a jury trial in March.
Greg Haidl's attorneys have filed several motions to dismiss the
case based on prosecutorial misconduct. They have filed another
motion asking that the court not accept the videotape of the incident
as evidence because they say it was stolen from the defendants.
The judge is expected to hear arguments on those motions on Monday
at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
* DEEPA BHARATH covers public safety and courts. She may be
reached at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at email@example.com.