BOULDER, Colo. –
Camera reporter Vanessa Miller today is covering the third day of a week-long series of hearings to argue several motions before a judge regarding Diego Alcalde, 39, who was arrested in January 2008 on suspicion of brutally beating and raping Susannah Chase and leaving her to die in an alley near downtown Boulder.
UPDATE 3:36 p.m.
A woman who Alcalde was convicted of kidnapping in Wyoming in 2000 testified in court this afternoon that he acted drunk and disoriented before attacking her.
The now 29-year-old woman said she had been in Fort Collins that night and was returning home in the early morning hours of Aug. 10 when she noticed a small car with a Colorado license plate following her. It stayed in her rear view mirror until she parked her car outside her apartment.
The woman said Alcalde got out of his car and told her that he couldn’t find his hotel. The woman said she took him at his word and thought about where he might be trying to go.
“When I turned my head, he snapped,” the woman told the court, snapping her fingers. “He wasn’t disoriented anymore, and he was on top of me.”
Alcalde wrapped his hands around the woman’s neck, making it difficult for her to breathe and impossible to talk or scream, she testified.
The woman said she fought back and found a way to sound her car horn.
“He said, ‘You just had to go and do that, didn’t you?'” the woman testified. “So he grabbed me and pulled me out of the car.”
The woman said Alcalde dragged her through the parking lot and into an area that was somewhat hidden behind a fence. At that point, she said, she had a chance to scream.
The woman said Alcalde pinned her to the ground and again had his hands around her neck. She kept trying to fight back, she said
“I tried to grab him in the genital area,” she said. “I was trying to hurt him.”
That didn’t work, and she said through tears, “I didn’t want to die.”
After a few minutes, something did prompt Alcalde to stop the attack, the woman said.
“Some of my family members had come out of apartment because they had heard the horn and the screaming,” she said.
Alcalde fled the scene, but police arrested him about 10 minutes later.
He was convicted later that year of kidnapping the woman, and he was sentenced to serve 12 to 20 years in a Wyoming prison. In August 2003, the Wyoming Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. The high court ruled the trial judge had erred by letting an alternate juror join deliberations in progress when another juror fell ill.
Alcalde was resentenced in 2004 to seven to 10 years.
During his stay in prison, he was forced to submit a DNA swab that eventually matched crime-scene evidence obtained from the Chase homicide.
Alcalde has repeatedly denied killing Chase. During today’s hearing, Alcalde has been taking notes almost constantly and talking a lot with his attorney.
He has appeared almost expressionless during testimony from two women who said he victimized them.
UPDATE 12:50 p.m.
The morning after a woman said Alcalde raped her repeatedly, he didn’t seem to remember anything, she said. When the then-15-year-old asked to go home, she said, he seemed confused.
“He was like, ‘Why? Let’s go to breakfast,'” the woman said.
The woman testified that she called Alcalde’s sister, who was also 15, and told her that “something bad had happened.” The woman said Alcalde’s sister seemed to have guessed at what had happened. When Alcalde dropped her off, the woman said, his sister confronted him and told him was he “was in so much trouble.”
The woman testified that Alcalde’s sister said, “I know what you did.”
“I don’t know how she could have possibly put two and two together,” the woman said. “But she said she had known what he had done.”
The woman said she reported the assault to police the next day and underwent a rape examination at Denver General Hospital.
The woman said a Denver detective told her that Alcalde reported she had consented to sex and “It was going to be his word against mine in court.”
The woman said she was willing to go to court but couldn’t get information from police about court dates and times.
Prosecutors have reported they’ve been unable to find a police report on the alleged assault.
The woman said she stopped talking with Alcalde’s sister after the attack and saw her only once in Denver.
“She was upset with me,” the woman said. “She said her family was having it really hard because of me accusing her brother of doing that. She said her mother and father were fighting about had happened, and she was blaming me for the family problems.”
UPDATE 11:55 a.m.
A woman who said Alcalde raped her repeatedly when she was 15 testified in court today that she and the defendant had been close before the day of the assault. She’d visited his apartment nearly a dozen times without any problems, she said.
“We had gone over there to watch movies and hang out,” she said.
She said Alcalde suddenly changed after he raped her in a Morrison motel room.
“He was not talking to me,” she said. “His demeanor was changed.”
“The person I knew and the person he was at that moment were completely different,” she said. “Normally we would giggle and joke and listen to music together. He was not like that at all.”
According to a motion prosecutors filed with the court, the teen reported the assault in Morrison and later at Alcalde’s apartment to police, but no records of the report can be found.
Alcalde’s defense attorney, Mary Claire Mulligan, asked the woman if she saw a knife or bat in his car, referring to the bat used to kill Chase. The woman said she didn’t see anything like that in the car and doesn’t remember seeing anything in his room. But, she said, “He had those sorts of things.
“He’s a guy,” she said. “He had hockey sticks and baseball bats.”
UPDATE 11:05 a.m.
A woman who said she knew Alcalde when she was 15 testified this morning that he raped her five times in one day about six months before University of Colorado student Susannah Chase was killed in Boulder.
The woman testified in Boulder County District Court as part of a marathon of motions hearings that resumed today in Alcalde’s homicide case.
Alcalde, 39, was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of beating Chase to death in December 1997 near her Spruce Street home. Police linked him to the homicide after his DNA matched crime-scene evidence.
Prosecutors today are asking women to testify about how they’ve been victimized in the past by Alcalde. Defense attorneys objected to the witnesses’ testimony, but Judge James C. Klein allowed it.
The woman, who said Alcalde sexually assaulted her repeatedly in over two days during the summer of 1997, testified this morning that Alcalde was her best friend’s brother, and she also viewed him as a “brother.”
The woman said she had run away from home and was staying with Alcalde’s sister and parents when she met him and decided to spend a day with him. She said they wanted to give his sister time to be alone with her boyfriend.
Alcalde took the teen in his car toward the mountains, according to the woman’s testimony, and they were planning to go rock climbing. But, she said, they instead stopped at a store to buy some Mad Dog wine.
Because it was getting late, Alcalde rented a hotel room near Morrison, according to the woman. There, the woman said, he forced her to have sex before snorting cocaine.
The woman said she asked him to go home. Instead, he drove her to his apartment, she said, where he raped her four more times over the course of the day.
She said she tried to resist and at one point pulled on sweatpants and tied the drawstring as tight as she could. Her attempts failed, and in the morning after the final assault, she said Alcalde came into the room with a large knife and held it to his own neck.
“He was saying he couldn’t believe he had done what he had done to me and he wanted to kill himself for doing it,” the woman said. “He was crying and very upset about what he had done.”