A 17-year-old faces multiple life terms in state prison after being convicted on Friday of kidnapping and raping two teenage girls in a Rancho Penasquitos, Calif. park.
Leonel Contreras was tried as an adult and will be sentenced Dec. 5, according to KFMB.
One of the victims told the jury that she and the other victim were attacked by Contreras and his co-defendant, William Steven Rodriguez, under a tree as they walked from a family party on September 3, 2011.
The teen said the assailants took her and her friend up a slope and into a dark grassy area. She testified that she struggled with the man who held her -- who she identified as Contreras -- and bit him. He responded by putting a bandana in her mouth, and "said if I tried to scream he would hurt me," the girl testified.
Contreras' lawyer, Michael Begovich, told the jury that police coerced a false confession from his client and that prosecutors lacked DNA evidence showing Contreras committed the crimes.
Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick said there was nothing to indicate that Contreras' confession had been fake and noted that he also admitted his guilt to his family.
Patrick said the families of the victims were relieved by the verdict, which convicted Contreras on 21 charges, according to Fox5 San Diego.
“They were happy to finally have some closure on what’s been a very difficult year for the girls and for their families,” Patrick said. “With the courage of both victims and the support of their families and the incredible work of the San Diego County Police Department we were able to achieve the justice that we were seeking.”
The verdict in Rodriguez's case will be announced on Monday, according to the San Diego Union Times.
Rodriguez's lawyer, Dana Feuling, argued that her client was involved in the sexual assaults but did not commit sodomy, which was among the charges against the teens.