Humboldt Justice With John Chiv: Preliminary Hearing in Sexual Assault Case
John Chiv covers the local legal system for his blog. He shares his observations on some of the more high profile trials with us in our Humboldt Justice guest column.
A preliminary hearing was held yesterday for Markis Shirley in the sexual assault of a Eureka woman. Note: Victim’s of sexual assault in California are protected by the law and court records only use a pseudonym, Jane Doe, when referring to a woman victim.
John Chiv, courtroom watcher and local blogger, was there to follow the legal proceedings. He writes,
Jane Doe, a 33 year old, who has lived in Eureka for two years took the stand yesterday to testify about her alleged rape by Markis Shirley. Before she took the stand, she seemed extremely nervous, holding hands with her friend Nathan King.
She told Deputy District Attorney Stacey Eads that she made a living “trimming” and “escorting” via a website. On October 4, Jane Doe got a text message from a “potential client.” He told her he got her number and “wanted to meet up.” She told him where she was staying, which was at the Days Inn in Eureka. She had never met this client before. She told him she would meet him in the parking lot and then have him come up to her room. Jane Doe said her “on and off again” boyfriend, King, who is a good friend was with her when she received the first text message. Her friend left and went to Denny’s to wait for her. She said her friend and she had a routine. She would text him if she had received the money and it was safe. If not, he would know something was wrong.
She said she met the client in the parking lot, brought him up to her room. They chatted for a minute. She asked for the money. As the client reached in his pocket, she sent a text to her friend. The client then informed her he had lost the money. She sent another text to King, saying, “Wait.” As the client was getting ready to leave, she said to him, “Maybe another time.’ He opened the door a bit as if he was going to leave and then shut the door.
She identified Shirley as that client.
Jane Doe said, “I just knew I was in trouble. He jumped towards me,” she said he had a sharp object that he held to her side. She said she could not see the object but Shirley held it against her. “I felt it puncturing my skin.” She said this was on her lower right side above her hip.
DDA Stacy Eads: “Did he say anything to you?”
Jane Doe: “He said I had to listen to him or he is going to cut me. To just do what he said.”
Jane Doe said Shirley grabbed her legs and threw her on the bed. She was lying on her back. He ripped off her pants and “my panties.” He told her to remove her bra and top and was yelling at her. She said even though he was holding the sharp object in one hand, the way he was holding it, he could use both hands. Shirley kept telling her, “I will cut you.”
“He got on top of me. I begged him to at least put on a condom. It was important even though I was scared and he did.” She said that he made her kiss him and then he flipped her over. “[H]e did penetrate me. Before he penetrated me, he performed oral sex on me as I was crying.”
DDA Eads: “Did his tongue penetrate your vagina?”
Jane Doe: “Yes.” She said this softly and was crying on the stand as she said it.
“I was lying on my back, he spread my legs, after he was done, he flipped me over, put condom on, he first penetrated me while I was on my back, then he flipped me over. I felt the knife again on my back. He was telling me do I like to be cut, if I was a good girl he wouldn’t cut me, if I’d stop crying it would be over quicker.”
She said Shirley took off his pants and underwear but kept his shirt on during sex.
DDA Eads: “Why did you tell him to put a condom on?”
Jane Doe: “If I didn’t have a choice to change the situation, I didn’t want to get a disease or pregnant by this person raping me. It was the one thing I could control.”
“He was upset with me because I could not get wet in his words. He said it would go quicker but I couldn’t because I was being raped.”
He kept talking and pushing her face into the blankets. If she tried to talk, Shirley pushed her face down into the bed.”
Her phone kept ringing while he was raping her. “He stopped at one point and asked me who is this calling?” Jane Doe said that is when her friend knocked on the door. She said Markis had her cell phone and he held it up to her and said you tell him to leave or I will cut him too.”
On the phone, King asked her, “What is going on? Is everything okay?”
“I was trying to say I was okay” but she said her friend could tell from her voice something was wrong. “Nathan said you are not okay. I’m coming in.”
She said when her friend opened the door, she had yelled “Rape, Rape, please help me” hoping the night manager or someone else would hear her.
At this point a woman in the audience who knew Shirley interrupted with a comment. Judge Reinholtsen admonished her.
King had a key and he tried to open the door “but Markis had latched it.” She said Shirley had the knife pressed against her neck and was telling her to get her friend to leave. “When Nathan opened the door, Markis grabbed his stuff,” Jane Doe said she took that opportunity to unlatch the door. “Markis fled the room” and her friend took off after him.
“I sat on the floor and cried,” said Jane Doe. She waited for her friend to come back and he told her to call the police. “I was scared to call the police because of my profession,” she said. Her friend talked to her and he called the police and she spoke with the 911 operator.
“Before the police officer came, I came up with a cover lie so it wouldn’t look like I was prostituting,” said Jane Doe. “The story was she was in the parking lot, Shirley was at the bus stop, she invited him to “smoke weed and that’s when he attacked me. That is the story I gave the police officer.”
She said later when she spoke to Detective Ron Harpham, when he was taking pictures in her hotel room, that is when she told him the truth. Before the police arrived, Jane Doe said she put “her weed and weed bong away.”
Asked to describe her injuries, she said she had a “scrape from his knife on her neck, a not so prominent injury on her side” and when she was medically examined, she had “some ripping and tearing to her vagina.”
Jane Doe told Ms. Eads that she did not initially tell the police about text messages Shirley had sent her about wanting his stuff back. He had left some things behind in the room and others he had dropped while fleeing in the hallway. She said she told him no and that he would have to deal with the police. She said “he made a joke like I really wanted the police to know what I did for a living.”
During cross, Mr. David Lee, Shirley’s court appointed attorney asked her if she was living at or using hotels for work and she said both, while trying to save money for a place.
There were no specifics stated on the website about services or amounts, no specifics discussed in text messages, $300 was the amount discussed and that she offered him weed before asking for money but not sure he smoked any.
“If Mr. Shirley had the $300, you would have consented,” asked Mr. Lee.
“Yes,” said Jane Doe.
She answered a question by Mr. Lee saying that the last time she had penetrative sex before Shirley came over was more than 24 hours and that it was not rough. That while she gave King money for gas or if he needed money, he was just her friend making sure she was safe, denying Mr. Lee’s insinuation that they had any arrangement for a cut.
She said she did not see the sharp object when Shirley fled and nothing was found in the hallway.
Nathan King, glared at Markis Shirley when he took the stand and a few times during his testimony. He said Jane Doe was his ex-girlfriend and good friend. He met her over a year ago. His testimony was pretty much the same as Doe’s except she said Shirley came over around 1 or 2 a.m. and King said more like 3:30 or 4. He also said he initially asked the night manager to call the police while he was in pursuit of Shirley but then told him to wait until he talked to Doe. He said that he when he opened the door and Jane Doe yelled rape, he shut the door. He broke down on the stand as he was saying that he realized what had happened. He said Shirley came out the door, had no pants on, jacket and shoes in his hand and that Shirley dropped these and an used condom while fleeing.
He said he convinced Jane Doe to call the police and told her, “You are not going to get in trouble for being an escort. You need to call the police, what this guy did is dead wrong.”
King said when he did not get any response from Doe via text or his calls, it was about 15 minutes until he got to the hotel and knocked on her door.
Detective Ron Harpham described getting the call at 6:35 a.m., how he was asked for assistance by Officer Corsetti and he arrived at Days Inn from his home around 7 a.m. He was briefed by Officer Corsetti, then Officer Andrew Endsley, who was the primary officer on the scene and who was guarding the evidence in the hallway and the room. Detective Harpham said he asked Jane Doe to go into the room because there were a lot of items and piles of clothes and he needed her assistance in identifying relevant evidence to gather and photograph and for her to tell him what happened. Detective Harpham described in detail how he collected and secured evidence and where the items he saw were located and what he found. He said Jane Doe told him, her “panties were removed by force.”
“The southwest corner of the bed was smeared with mascara which matched the makeup on her face,” said Detective Harpham. “She said that was from her face being pushed down when she was on her stomach.”
A wallet containing an ID with Shirley’s picture and two other ID cards identifying him were found. He said the victim’s story was very consistent with what she told him at the hotel and later at the station when he took her statement.
After developing probable cause, he put out a Be On the Lookout for Shirley. On October 13, an EPD officer recognized him and Shirley fled when the officer told him, “It’s time for you to come in,” to which Shirley replied, “I’m not ready” and started running. This was near Buhne and Summer. Shirley was apprehended by four police officers near California Street. Even after he was in cuffs, he kept kicking at the officers and had to be restrained and taken into custody. Shirley was laughing in court as Detective Harpham was testifying about him being arrested.
Detective Harpham said there was no semen found in the condom or any fresh semen on the clothes.