Irvine resident Anthony Nicholas Orban struck out when he tried to argue he was insane and therefore not guilty of brutally raping a waitress, with a jury in Rancho Cucamonga convicting the former Westminster police detective and combat Marine in June.
But Orban may have been spared a life sentence today when the judge entertained an 11th hour defense allegation of juror misconduct–a prospect that reportedly left the victim in tears.
Defense attorney James Blatt informed Judge Shahla S. Sabet of West Valley Superior Court that his office had been contacted by a male juror who alleged he overheard two female jurors speaking, with one saying the anti-depressant drug Zoloft did not make her “crazy” and one or the other adding she had been a victim of domestic violence, reports the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
It could be argued either statement showed that juror or jurors were prejudiced before finding Orban guilty of kidnapping and raping the woman in 2010 and of being sane when he did so. The defense had conceded the 32-year-old did the crimes but argued he was insane due to being over-prescribed Zoloft and other anti-depressants to deal with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This is a trial that already featured Sabet dismissing a male juror because he was deemed “too emotional” to continue deliberating.
The latest twist brought the victim, identified only as Erinn, to tears, the Orange County Register reports. She had come to Sabet's courtroom to share what the ordeal had done to her.
The young mother had just left her job at the Dave & Buster's at the Ontario Mills
shopping mall the afternoon of April 3, 2010, when she was grabbed by Orban, who had been drinking all day with a buddy. Orban forced Erinn into her SUV, drove her to a Fontana storage lot
and choked her,
repeatedly slapped her, punched her, rubbed her face with a handgun,
gagged her with the gun barrel, twice threatened to kill her, ordered
her at gunpoint to give him oral sex and photographed her with a cell
phone while raping her.
A text message the attacker sent with
the photo read, "Look what I'm doing.” But then he got a call back on
his cell phone that seemed to snap him out of the ultraviolence and
cause him to apologize profusely to his victim. He was found out after police responding to the scene found a Westminster Police service weapon, called the number of the person it was assigned to and Orban's wife answered.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before "graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.