Trial of man charged in Manhattan Heights rape cases begins

Arturo Valtierra Trial Day 1

EL PASO, Texas - DNA from the man police accuse of being the "Manhattan Heights rapist" was found on the victim, according to an expert who testified on the first day of his trial on Monday.

Arturo Valtierra-Payan, also known as Arturo Valtierra, is on trial for aggravated sexual assault, robbery and burglary that happened in late June 2013.

Aggravated sexual assault is rape in Texas.

Prosecutors say he is responsible for the rapes of three women Central El Paso neighborhood from May through June last year.

Prosecutors began their opening statements by describing how Valtierra broke into a house located in Central El Paso's Manhattan Heights neighborhood last year and attacked and raped the female resident.

Prosecutors read statements from the victim where she described how she found her kitchen window open and then saw the suspect duck down.

She tried to scare him away by kicking the door but he kicked it open and began punching her, then allegedly raped her, according to the statement.

The victim went on to describe in the statement that after the alleged assault he instructed her to give him her jewelry, stating he would cut her ring finger off if she didn't.

She then went on to describe how she stood by the kitchen sink and used soap to take her rings off.

Once the suspect got them he went out the back door.

In response, defense attorney Patrick Lara told jurors  they were going to hear from witnesses, law enforcement and experts in the filed of medicine and to not "rush to judgment."

He asked jurors to listen to all evidence with an open mind and hold the state of Texas to provide the evidence.

Prosecutors then called their first witness to the stand, El Paso Police Officer Michael Anthony Ramirez, a nine-year-veteran of the department.

Ramirez described how he was the first responder to arrive at the home and how he and his partner entered through the front door noticing the door had been forced open and pieces of wood on the ground.

After checking and clearing the home for suspects they found the victim in the kitchen, holding a robe in front of her.

Ramirez described her as being fairly calm but looked "like a deer in headlights" with a shocked look on her face.

Officers asked her what happened and she said the suspect went out the back door.

Ramirez described how he checked the backyard and noticed the back gate was open. He requested a K-9 unit but the dog was not able to pick up the scene of the suspect.

He also described how he found distinct footprints in the dirt next to the grass and found hand prints by the kitchen window.

The officer then told jurors how he tried to keep the area pristine and prevent others from stepping on footprints or contaminating the area.

Lara questioned the officer about contamination at the crime scene and asked who was on the contamination list.

Ramirez was then excused.

Prosecutors then called the second witness, paramedic and firefighter Raymond Estrada to the stand.

Estrada described the victim's injuries to jurors.

He described bruises to the victim's left side of the face and redness to her neck, arms and legs where she had been held down and choked.

Estrada said the victim complained of pain to her neck and back.

He then described how they stabilized the victim by placing her on a wooden back support to keep her spine straight just in case she had back injuries.

She was taken to Sierra Medical Center where she was also given a rape exam.

Lara asked Estrada to describe the difference between paramedics and firefighters and Estrada was dismissed shortly afterwards.

The nurse who administered the rape exam then testified, pointing out the victim's injuries included a black eye, swollen face, busted lip, and abrasions to her neck, elbows and knees.

A DNA expert then testified for the prosecution that Valtierra's DNA was found on a swab taken from the victim.

Some jurors appeared to glare at Valtierra during testimony.

Lara didn't want the state to present certain photographs, including a police photo lineup the victim identified Valtierra from.

The trial is set to resume at 7:45 a.m. in Judge Luis Aguilar's courtroom.

Valtierra is being tried separately for each case.

He also is accused of beating up and robbing a couple in the Manhattan Heights area.

Authorities used DNA to link Valtierra, to a sexual assault case in Fort Worth.

Valtierra was arrested at about 11 p.m. July 2 in the 7200 block of Alameda.

Police said last year that there are no other open cases in El Paso against Valtierra at this time.

The Attacks

Affidavits uncovered by the ABC-7 I-Team last year reveal that Valtierra allegedly burglarized two homes a few blocks away from each other --  in less than an hour  -- on the same night in late May.

At the first home, the woman went outside to lock her vehicle door when Valtierra confronted her. She ran inside in her home but Valtierra broke the door in, injuring himself doing it, according to the affidavit.

The woman screamed, waking up her husband and small child who were in the living room.

"The defendant threatened to kill both victims if they did not cooperate," according to the affidavit. "The defendant told the male victim to get on the floor. While on the floor the male victim observed the defendant to have a tattoo on his left outer leg below the knee and the defendant was bleeding from a cut on his right shin area."

Valtierra took money and a cell phone from them and then had the man put a flat screen TV inside their vehicle, which he then took, according to the affidavit. The vehicle was found a few blocks away without the TV.

At the second home, a woman was asleep in her bed when she woke up  to find Valtierra standing over her with a knife, according to the affidavit.

"The defendant threatened to kill the victim if she did not cooperate," according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states Valtierra then forced the woman to perform a sex act on him before he raped her. The victim's home alarm went off but Valtierra was able to escape through a rear door as police arrived.

In late June, a woman woke up and Valtierra was standing over her with an ice pick, according to the affidavit. He then allegedly threatened to kill her and her daughters, who were in the same room, if she did not cooperate.

Valtierra then led the woman out of the home and made her perform a sex act on him before he raped her, according to the affidavit. He then took her back to the home and stole her money and jewelry, police said.

Two days later, Valtierra broke in through the front door of a woman's home and punched her. When she took off his bandana during the attack, he allegedly threatened to kill her, then raped her.

The Evidence

El Paso police say they were able to connect Valtierra to the first three crimes due to his DNA profile being linked to DNA found at those crime scenes.

"The probability of selecting an unrelated person at random who could be the source of this DNA profile is approximately 1 in 21.89 sextillion for caucasians, 1 in 164.4 septillion for blacks, and 1 in 338.8 quintillion for Hispanics," according to the affidavit.

The second victim also provided information about characteristics of Valtierra's penis that were verified when he was arrested and a body search warrant was executed.

El Paso police detectives linked Valtierra to a sexual assault case that was reported in the Fort Worth area in September 2012.

This link was established through DNA evidence that was recovered in El Paso and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Previous Crimes

A man named Arturo Valtierra-Payan with the same birth date as the man arrested in El Paso was arrested in Chihuahua in 2009 for carrying an unlicensed weapon, and served two years in Cereso Prison in Chihuahua.

A couple of years before that Valtierra was caught by the Border Patrol twice in 2007 after illegally entering the U.S. and was deported back to Mexico.

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