Victor Peña has been found guilty of kidnapping and raping a woman he held captive in his Boston apartment over three days in January 2019.
A jury in Suffolk Superior Court returned the verdict Tuesday, convicting him on all 10 charges of aggravated rape and one of kidnapping after deliberating for about two hours. Peña is slated to be sentenced Monday morning.
Peña, 42, had testified in his defense shortly before the trial closed, a surprise twist after he'd declined to take the stand earlier in the case. It was the one part of the trial when he was present in the courtroom — he watched the rest of the proceedings, including the verdict being read, from another room after making outbursts early in the prcess.
He had testified that the woman approached him and insisted on going home with him. What prosecutors described of three days of hell for the woman at the man's Charlestown apartment he said was consensual, and referred to the victim as an angel.
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"We don't know what exactly what was in his head, obviously, but he certainly saw an opportunity to take advantage of somebody and took it," Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said after the hearing ended.
The woman, whom NBC10 Boston is not naming because she is the alleged victim of a sexual assault, was abducted after leaving Hennessy's, a bar near Faneuil Hall. She was later seen on surveillance video in Charlestown, where she was eventually found by police at an apartment complex.
She wasn't in court Tuesday, though she may still give a victim impact statement at sentencing.
"She was brave, she was articulate and she gave the jury the evidence they needed to bring about this conviction," District Attorney Kevin Hayden said.
Earlier, as lawyers made their closing arguments, the defense had asked the jury to find Peña not guilty by lack of criminal responsibility, "because of a mental defect." Later, the prosecution argued Peña knew what he was doing, calling him unusual and twisted, but not crazy in a legal sense.
Peña testified Monday, a major twist in the trial just one day before the closing arguments. He hadn't testified earlier in the trial, and appeared in the courtroom Monday carrying a book and wearing rosary beads around his neck. His accuser had testified that the man would make her read the Bible in Spanish while he held her her captive at his apartment in Charlestown and sexually assaulted her.
Peña testified that the woman approached him and insisted on going home with him. What prosecutors described of three days of hell for the woman at the man's Charlestown apartment, he said was consensual, and referred to the victim as an angel.
"We made love. This is normal. God tells us in this life to have relations," he said.
At one point on the stand, while describing when police found them in his apartment, Peña punched the air and took his shirt off. He said he wanted to testify to clear his name.
The prosecution had no questions for the man, but did have a doctor testify that Peña is mentally competent to stand trial.
While testifying, he spoke in Spanish through an interpreter. Earlier in the trial, Peña had been required not to be in the same room as the jury due to behavioral issues — during jury selection, he'd stripped naked.
Peña's family and his attorney have said he suffers from mental health issues and has the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, but he was declared competent to stand trial following a hearing.
Evidence was presented in the courtroom last week. On Friday, jurors went to Peña's Charlestown apartment to see where the alleged crimes took place, two days after the alleged victim in the case took the stand for the first time.
The woman told a jury in Boston she remembered waking up naked in an unfamiliar apartment after going out in Boston the night before.
"I tried to leave," the woman said, but her alleged attacker, Victor Peña, "wouldn't let me…he threatened to kill me."
"I didn't want to die so I just let him," she continued. "He said he rescued me and saved me and I would've gotten frostbite if he hadn't saved me."
A companion of Peña, Marlon Roldan, testified Tuesday about what happened when they saw the victim walking alone the night of Jan. 19, 2019, on Congress Street. Peña said hello to her, she said hi back, they started to talk, and she started walking with him. Roldan said the victim was visibly drunk and he told Peña to leave her alone.
"I told him 'Let's keep going, leave her there,' and he didn't listen. He continued going with her," Roldan said in court.
He testified that Peña was hugging her and eventually the two were kissing as they were walking toward State Street Station. Roldan left but Peña took the woman on the T, getting on the same train as Amy Simpson, who told the jury last Tuesday that the woman couldn't even stand up straight.
Resources for victims of sexual assault are available through the National Sexual Violence Resources Center and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673, and Massachusetts provides this list of statewide and resources for sexual assault survivors.