A jury Thursday found a former mechanic at Fletcher Jones Motorcars in Newport Beach guilty of twice raping an Irvine woman and trying to rape a Newport Beach woman after breaking into their homes.
Travis Dewayne Batten Jr., 31, of Irvine, sobbed as the guilty verdicts were announced, according to a reporter in the courtroom.
He wasn't sobbing around 9 p.m. on May 20, 2005, when a 40-year-old woman returned to her Newport Beach residence only to be confronted by a man wearing a mask who had broken in. She was thrown to the ground, forced into her bedroom, bound with duct tape around her wrists and over her mouth–and then had her breasts and vagina fondled. The intruder did not rape her but she was punched twice in the head so severely it broke the attacker's hand. He told the woman he would come back if she called police and then fled. She called 9-1-1 anyway.
Newport Beach police investigators collected DNA at the scene that was processed by the Orange County Crime Lab and entered in the local and state DNA databases.
Then, at about 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2006, a man wearing a dark mask broke into the Irvine apartment of a 21-year-old woman who was showering. When she walked back into her bedroom, she was confronted by the stranger, who threw her to the ground, bound her hands and raped her. He would sodomize and rape her a second time before ordering her back into the shower and ordering her not to contact police before fleeing. She called 9-1-1 also.
Irvine police investigators also collected DNA at the scene that was entered into the local and state DNA databases. A hit came back matching the DNA to genetic material collected in the 2005 sexual assault down in Newport Beach.
Next, around midnight on July 8, 2010, a man in a mask broke into the Irvine apartment of a 24-year-old woman who was also showering. He would also throw her to the ground, bind her hands, rape her and force her to engage in mutual oral copulation. She too was later ordered into the shower and told not to call police before he fled, but she also contacted the cops.
Irvine and Newport Beach police worked together to find a serial rapist. Batten was put under surveillance after his car was spotted around an Irvine apartment complex where there had been several reports of peeping, according to Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky. But no case could be made against Batten without his DNA. In July 2011, that changed.
Batten was pulled over by Irvine police for having tinted car windows and convinced to voluntarily blow into a straw that tests drivers for alcohol, Bokosky told City News Service's Paul Anderson.
DNA evidence collected from the straw matched that from the rapes. Police would also find videos on an external hard drive Batten took of women studying, showering, watching TV and other mundane activities.
He did catch one break: the woman from the July 8, 2010 assault refused to testify and moved back to Japan. A count each of first-degree burglary and dissuading a witness were
also dismissed by the judge due to the statute of limitations.
But even though the case against Batten was scaled back to one rape and one attempted rape, he caught no break from jurors, who began deliberations near the end of the court day Wednesday and continued for about two hours Thursday morning before letting the judge know they had a verdict.
This was it: guilty on two counts of rape and one count each of kidnapping to commit rape, assault with intent to commit rape, digital penetration, sodomy and assault with intent to commit rape during a residential burglary. Jurors also found true sentencing enhancements for committing sexual offenses during a burglary and tying up or binding a person.
Batten now faces more than 100 years in state prison at his scheduled May 23 sentencing hearing.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief 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 alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.