Man found guilty of raping, kidnapping girl from Northridge home

A man was convicted Friday of 32 felony counts for kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from her bed in Northridge in the dark and sexually assaulting her at various locations nearly 2 1/2 years ago.

The seven-man, five-woman jury found Tobias Dustin Summers, 34, guilty of 13 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, six counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 or younger, five counts of oral copulation with a child 10 or younger, two counts of sexual intercourse with a child 10 or younger and one count each of kidnapping, kidnapping to commit rape, first-degree burglary, forcible lewd act on a child, using a minor for sex acts and possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct.

Jurors also found true allegations that he had used a knife and belt and that she had been bound or tied during some of the crimes, while rejecting those allegations on some of the other charges.

Six other counts against Summers were dismissed before the case went to the jury.

After the verdict was read, the girl walked out of the courtroom holding her mother's hand.

Midway through the reading of the verdict, Summers was handcuffed and escorted out of court by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies. He re-emerged from a courtroom lockup with deputies just after the court clerk finished reading the verdict, but Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen told deputies not to bring him back into court.

The judge said later that Summers had been told by deputies he could not leave the courtroom as the verdict was being read and was removed from the courtroom after he tried to stand up. He noted that the defendant had "slipped his handcuffs'' two times earlier in the morning, and he will be brought out in "full waist chains and full leg chains'' for his sentencing Oct. 22.

Coen told attorneys that Summers could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Summers' attorney, Jeff Yanuck, said outside court he expects to file a motion seeking a new trial. Summers testified in his own defense against his attorney's advice.

"He thought it was his only way to explain what really happened,'' Yanuck said.

The jury's foreman, David Liddle, said outside court that Summers contradicted himself several times during his testimony.

"... It was more damning (to him) than helpful,'' he said of the defendant's testimony. "There were quite a few jurors that had he not taken the stand, we would have been probably still been in there deliberating.''

During his testimony, Summers said the girl looked "like a little version of my mom.''

In his closing argument, Summers' attorney contended there was no credible DNA evidence that Summers was involved in any sexual assault. He suggested that someone else assaulted the girl on March 27, 2013, and that his client saved her.

There was "no sperm, no saliva or any blood of Mr. Summers anywhere,'' Yanuck told jurors. "He chose to tell you what happened. Mr. Summers told you that he did not have any inappropriate touching of (the girl) and the DNA evidence supports that.''

Deputy District Attorney Laura Knight told jurors that Summers washed DNA evidence off the girl at a vacant house -- one of the locations where she was taken.

A small amount of DNA on the girl's face was tested and found to be male. Summers could not be excluded as a contributor, while DNA on her shorts was "found consistent with the defendant,'' the prosecutor said.

"He kidnapped, he raped her, he sexually assaulted her ... He would have you believe that, somehow, he saved her life,'' Knight told jurors in her closing argument.

The girl testified during the trial, telling jurors she was led from her home in the dark and told to get into a car being driven by another man, who got out of the vehicle after her assailant said he was going to drop her off at
a fire station.

"Were you scared?'' the prosecutor asked. "Yes,'' the girl responded.

The girl's mother, the prosecution's first witness, testified that she woke up, heard noises in her daughter's room and saw their dog trying to get at the girl's pet hamster, then realized that her daughter was not in bed.

She said that she started screaming her daughter's name and called 911 after not being able to find the girl. Jurors heard a recording of the woman's emotional 911 call reporting her daughter's disappearance.

The girl was later dropped off near a hospital.

The woman said she saw her daughter with scratches and bruises later that afternoon at the hospital and was relieved that the child was alive. She said her daughter gave her details a few days later about what had happened to her.

Summers was arrested almost a month later at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center south of Tijuana, Mexico. Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said a $25,000 reward that was "highly publicized south of the
border'' led to the telephone tip about Summers' whereabouts.

Daniel Martinez, 31, who was charged along with Summers, was convicted last October of burglary but acquitted of the girl's kidnapping. He was sentenced last November to six years behind bars.

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