On Feb. 12, 2008, convicted rapist Steven William Barton sat in his pickup truck and couldn't restrain himself from going into a 66-year-old Huntington Beach woman's residence with the intent to commit a bizarre crime.
Barton, who started a car-wash business after he left prison in 2003, wanted the elderly woman's panties.
Well, to be more precise, the 55-year-old man wanted her soiled white panties, according to court records.
The 6-foot-4-inch Barton rang the woman's doorbell and got her to open the front door after uttering a fake story. He then grabbed her by her neck and forced himself inside. He pushed the screaming woman to a bathroom, smashed her head on a granite counter and dragged her upstairs to her bedroom, where he reached into her lingerie drawer.
Thankfully, a neighbor heard her screams and called 911.
But before police arrived, Barton had tied her up, pulled down the woman's underwear and slapped her butt while demanding to know where she kept her money.
When cops entered the house, Barton fled down a street. He was eventually captured.
What did the officers find in Barton's pocket?
A pair of the woman's stockings.
Later, a search of his truck, which was parked near the victim's house, located a laptop that contained the following search terms: "Grandma white panties," "ladies in girdles," "mom's that love sex with any age," "cum and mom's in white panties," "big white cotton panties sex" and, last but not least, "cum photos and mom's full white panties."
During an April 2009 trial, Barton testified that he had heard a woman screaming and that two unknown men fled the female victim's house, and then attacked him. After the assailants left, he entered the woman's home and found her on the floor. See? He was trying to be a hero.
A jury didn't buy it. They convicted him of multiple felonies, including burglary and attempt to commit sexual battery. Superior Court Judge Richard F. Toohey sentenced him to a term of 40 years to life in a California prison.
But Barton appealed, claiming his punishment is too severe and that his conviction was based in part on an illegal search of his laptop.
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This week, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Barton's claims and rejected all of them.
"Evidence of the search terms [found on the laptop] tended logically, naturally and by reasonable inference to establish Barton had a sexual attraction to older women and when he entered [the victim's home], he intended to rape her, not just burglarize her home," wrote Justice Kathleen E. O'Leary. "The search terms also tended to establish Barton had a lingerie fetish . . . [so the search] was relevant."
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly