See the update at the end of this post about the way Orban died and the court proceeding that was held without him.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 26, 12:45 P.M.: Anthony Nicholas Orban, the former Westminster police detective convicted earlier this year of kidnapping a waitress in Ontario and raping her in Fontana, was found dead in his jail cell this morning, according to authorities. The 32-year-old was due in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga for a 1:30 p.m. hearing tied to defense allegations of jury tampering. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is investigating what's claimed to be a suicide in the Central Detention Center.
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The manner in which Orban died has not yet been released.
Orban had been drinking with his Chino prison guard pal Jeffrey Thomas Jelinek all day April 3, 2010, before the cop kidnapped a waitress who'd just ended her shift at an Ontario Mills mall restaurant and took her at gunpoint to a Fontana self-storage lot where he brutally raped her. He later fled but left his Westminster Police Department service revolver he'd shoved into the single mom's mouth at one point behind. That led to Orban being identified and arrested. He was later kicked off the force.
Jelinek, who cut a plea deal to accessory charges in exchange for testifying, told the jury Orban had told him he would get turned on by reading rape reports.
The defense tried to argue Orban suffered temporary insanity due to a cocktail of drugs he was prescribed, including Zoloft and Neurontin, to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by Marine combat duty in Iraq before he returned to the U.S. The jury did not buy it.
But on the August day Orban was to be sentenced and his victim was going to make an impact statement, Judge Shahla S. Sabet delayed the hearing after defense attorney James Blatt said his office had been contacted by a male juror who alleged he overheard one female juror tell another the anti-depressant drug Zoloft did not make her "crazy" and one or the other adding she had been a victim of domestic violence.
Sabet scheduled the hearing today to go over that motion. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports today that the judge was scheduled to continue with this afternoon's hearing so at least the victim can finally make her statement. Without Orban there, it could be surreal.
UPDATE, OCT. 29, 8:45 A.M.: An autopsy is scheduled this morning in San Bernardino County. But defense attorney James Blatt has confirmed Orban hung himself in his cell.
Judge Sabet held what she called the "unprecedented" court hearing as scheduled Friday afternoon and said she is inclined to toss out Blatt's motion alleging juror misconduct and let stand Orban's two consecutive sentences: 82 years to life and 95 years. The judge is not inclined to hold a new trial and set a March 1 hearing date to officially close the criminal court case.
Orban's victim, identified only as Erinn, was allowed to finally give her victim impact statement. Reading softly, the High Desert resident began, "On April 3, 2010, due to the perverted actions of Anthony Nicholas Orban, my life was forever changed." She added:
I am disappointed that a person in your position would behave in such a way, not to mention the fact that you tried to get away with it instead of owning up to your actions like a real man. What you did has not only affected me and my family, or you and yours, but other officers and servicemen, as well; and due to YOUR actions, you have given the general public more reason to distrust them. You are an utter disgrace to the honorable men and women who actually take their jobs seriously.
Erinn said after the hearing she was upset she could not make her statement directly to Orban and that she felt bad for her attacker's family in light of his suicide.
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Blatt had issued a statement to the court on behalf of Orban's family where he said they are also reeling, having lost a good son who had served his country and the Westminster Police Department with distinction. The family also said it viewed Erinn as a legitimate victim, apologized for the nightmare she went through and observed her anger and rage are justified.
But Erinn had said earlier in her statement that while she was victimized, she is no one's victim. Suffering from PTSD for two years since the attack, Erinn also found it telling she never received an apology from Orban nor an expression of remorse. But, as she is not a victim, she bravely forgave him.
She never will, despite Sabet's best efforts to provide a forum for closure for Erinn on a very strange day.