ENCINITAS—A 30-year-old man accused of raping a patron of a popular Encinitas bar was convicted Nov. 6 of charges related to the sexual assault.
Jurors found Daniel Ernadas Diaz guilty of a single felony count each of forcible rape, assault to commit rape and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury stemming from the April 28, 2007, incident involving then 29-year-old Melissa A., whose last name has been withheld to protect her identity.
The panel did, however, acquit Diaz on a single felony charge of making criminal threats. If convicted, he faces up to 17 years in prison, defense attorney Jeff Reichert said in a phone interview.
Melissa A., who had a .32 blood alcohol level when tested by deputies an hour after the incident, told authorities several versions of how she was contacted by the defendant in the parking lot as she walked to her ex-fiancé’s truck in the parking lot north of D Street Bar and Grill. However, in each version, she said he pushed her into the four-door truck, choked her causing her to vomit and then punched and raped her. She also told police Diaz had threatened her life during the attack.
Deputies said when they contacted Melissa A. immediately following the incident she was naked except for a sweater and she had a cut under her left eye, a bloody face and shirt, and her breath reeked of vomit and alcohol.
Despite the victim’s DNA being located in a bloodstain on Diaz’s white tank top, as well as on his genitals, he maintained that Melissa A. told him that for $200 she’d have sex with him, which he paid, but after some intimate touching her demeanor changed and she angrily kicked him out of her vehicle. Diaz told police, who found him in an apartment complex near the parking lot where the incident occurred, he panicked and fled the scene because he was on parole at the time.
Neither Diaz’s semen or the $200 were found on the victim.
Reichert said several jurors agreed that the severity of Melissa A.’s injuries swayed them to believe the victim was sexually assaulted. He’d argued throughout the trial that the sex between his client and Melissa A. was consensual.
Diaz’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 8. He has a strike on his criminal record for a 2003 robbery out of San Diego County.