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Victor Peña, who is accused of kidnapping and raping a woman after she left a Boston bar in January 2019, testified in his own defense Monday, saying he was trying to help the woman and didn’t hold her captive, The Boston Globe reported.
Peña, 42, allegedly abducted the then-23-year-old victim while she was intoxicated after she left Hennessy’s Bar downtown, which she had been visiting with her sister and friends.
He then allegedly raped the victim repeatedly over the course of three days before police kicked down the door and rescued her.
Peña has plead not guilty to kidnapping and 10 counts of aggravated rape.
During Peña’s testimony Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, which lasted over an hour, he rambled, waved his arms wildly in the witness box, and repeatedly failed to answer questions posed to him by Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum, the Globe reported.
The newspaper reported that he testified using a Spanish interpreter, and said his alleged victim came up to him and asked for his help on the night of Jan. 19, 2019, which was cold and snowy.
Peña testified that he wanted to take the woman to a hospital, but that she instead suggested they go to his apartment, the Globe reported. He said the two of them had good “chemistry” and started kissing, but that he was hesitant to have sex with her.
“She became enamored with me, and she wanted to have relations with me,” Peña said. “The love grew, and then we liked one another.”
Peña said his alleged victim, who is now 27, did not want to leave his Charlestown apartment, which is located in a Bunker Hill public housing development, during the three days she was there, the Globe reported.
Towards the end of Peña’s testimony, the newspaper wrote, he claimed the trial was corrupt “persecution.”
“They want to damage my record, and the press wants to attack me,” he said.
Peña’s testimony stands in stark contrast with the chilling testimony his alleged victim gave last week. The victim said the last thing she remembered from Jan. 19, 2010 was feeling tipsy at the bar.
She said the next thing she remembered was waking up the next morning in Peña’s dirty apartment. She said her clothes, phone, boots, and purse had been taken from her, and that he immediately physically stopped her from leaving.
The alleged victim gave an account of many instances of sexual assault and rape by Peña, and said she eventually stopped resisting his assaults because he had threatened to kill her and she didn’t want to die.
The alleged victim testified that she tried to escape twice while Peña was asleep, but that he caught her both times. She said she also discovered that there was a deadbolt lock on the inside of the apartment that required a key to unlock.
After three days, she said, police knocked down the door of the apartment and arrested Peña.
Peña’s testimony came after evidence concluded last week. ADA Polumbaum argued against reopening evidence, as Peña was prone to outbursts during the pre-trial hearings, the Globe reported.
“It is one more disruption, one more chance…to accomplish the goal of derailing the trial,” Polumbaum said.
Monday was the first time the jury saw Peña in person during the trial. The Globe reported that he looked drastically different from photos from 2019 that were shown during the trial.
The newspaper reported that while the photos showed a young man with dark hair, Peña now looks thin and aged, and sports long, wiry gray hair. It reported that on Monday he was dressed in all black and wore a rosary around his neck.
Last week, jurors were played surveillance videos that showed Peña leading and sometimes carrying the alleged victim, who appeared intoxicated, from downtown Boston on the Orange Line to his apartment, the Globe reported.
Additionally, a DNA analyst testified that DNA collected from the woman’s body included Peña’s DNA, and that the chances that it belonged to someone else were more than one in an octillion, the Globe reported.
Peña’s attorney, Lorenzo Perez, likely intends to use the defense of “a lack of criminal responsibility because of mental disease or defect,” based on legal filings related to the case.
Seemingly to this end, when Perez cross-examined the victim last week, he had her reiterate the more bizarre aspects of her testimony. This included her testimony that Peña had a “shrine-like” photo display of himself on the wall, and that he often rambled in “tangential circles.”
During the trial, the Globe reported, Perez also highlighted that Peña never threatened his alleged victim with a weapon despite there being sharp knives in the kitchen. There was also no gun in the apartment, and Peña never handcuffed, tied, or bound the woman.
Perez has not called any witnesses of any kind other than Peña for his client’s defense.
The final witness on Monday was Dr. John Young, a forensic psychologist who evaluated Peña’s mental health in June, the Globe reported. He told jurors that despite Peña saying he heard voices in different languages and saw things in black and white, Peña does not have a mental illness that would cause him to be divorced from reality.
Peña’s trial judge ruled on July 12 that he was competent to stand trial.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning. If convicted, Peña faces 25 years in prison for the kidnapping charge, and each count of rape could get him up to 30 years in prison.
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