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Defense rips testimony in trial of alleged Canyon Country rapist

Court recesses after key witness is discredited

Posted: January 28, 2009 9:38 p.m.
Updated: January 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The defense attorney in the Canyon Country Rapist trial used the prosecution's key witness Wednesday to discredit her own testimony regarding identification of alleged rapist Adrian Arriano.

Defense attorney Julia Knox hounded witness Erin O'Brien for 20 minutes Wednesday morning in San Fernando Superior Court.

O'Brien said she saw Arriano, a twice-deported illegal alien, when he broke into her Canyon Country apartment June 26, 2007.

She identified who she thought was Arriano in a lineup and told deputies during the 2008 pre-trial hearing that Arriano was the man she saw.

"You indicated to deputies that you saw Arriano in the photo lineups," Knox said.

"That's not what I said. I said that man (Arriano) looks familiar," O'Brien said.

Knox pressed O'Brien on whether she identified Arriano in a lineup during the testimony given Jan. 20.
O'Brien squirmed on the witness stand before answering.

"Now I look at this man and he knows damn well he is the man who climbed in my window," O'Brien said as she stared at Arriano.

Judge Barbara Scheper told O'Brien to only give answers to the question Knox asked and struck the comment from the record. The jury heard the stricken comments.

Knox fired the question back when Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Angela Jordan objected.
Scheper told Knox to move on to the next question.

"Did you tell prosecutors that the man sitting next to me was the man who climbed into your window?" Knox asked.

"I may have," O'Brien said.

Knox continued to pound O'Brien on her witness account. The defense attorney handed her a printout initialed by O'Brien in 2008 where she allegedly picked Arriano out of a lineup.

O'Brien wrote the number four on the lineup sheet indicating the person in the lineup she believed to be Arriano. She also wrote notes on the sheet indicating she wasn't 100 percent sure whether the person she picked out was Arriano.

Jordan asked how O'Brien was able to identify Arriano.

"I saw his eyes," O'Brien said. But she hedged and she continued to explain her brief encounter with Arriano in 2007. "I can't see up close because my eyes are no good," she said.

The Signal questioned O'Brien after she was dismissed from court Wednesday about how Arriano's alleged break-in to her home affected her.

"It altered my life tremendously. I don't trust anymore," she said.

O'Brien was among three witnesses called to testify Wednesday.

Jordan called Sean Yoshii, Los Angeles County Scientific Services supervising criminalist, to the witness stand to corroborate testimony from Lori Schumann, the senior criminalist who analyzed the DNA in the Arriano case.

Yoshii checked Schumann's work and testified on direct examination that the crime lab followed all standard procedures.

But Schumann's testimony conflicted with Yoshii's.

The jury ended the day watching the first of two interrogation tapes in Spanish.

The jury will watch the second tape today in San Fernando Superior Court.

The district attorney charged Arriano with 29 counts including one count of attempted murder; 10 counts of forcible rape; five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object; three counts of sodomy; three counts of forced oral copulation, four counts of burglary, one count of false imprisonment by violence; one count of residential robbery and one count of assault to commit a felony during a burglary.


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