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Rape suspect asks for earlier trial

POSTED August 21, 2014 8:50 p.m.

An 18-year-old Turlock man accused of attempting to rape a woman in Donnelly Park last year is requesting to have his trial date moved forward before he is transferred from Juvenile Hall to the men’s jail.

Jason Daniel Lara, who is now 18 but was 17 at the time of the incident, is charged with kidnapping for the purpose of rape and assault with intent to commit rape for the July 5, 2013, attack.

The victim of the attack was a 43-year-old Turlock woman identified only as Jane Doe in court records.

Lara’s trial is currently set for Jan. 26, 2015, but his defense attorney asked for a new trial date, one that would happen this year and before Lara is transferred to the Stanislaus County Men’s Jail.

The prosecution objected to a new date, partially because of scheduling conflicts and partially because of difficulties it pose to the alleged victim in the case.

During a preliminary hearing Jane Doe described her run through Donnelly Park as something she did routinely in the early morning hours. She had just about made one lap around the park shortly before 5 a.m. July 5, when she was attacked from behind.

The woman said the assailant grabbed her and started dragging her off the path. She stated she was carried several feet to an isolated area of the park before the suspect threw her down and climbed on top of her.

The woman said she continued to fight against the attacker and that she was able to free herself from his grasp while he was trying to kiss her on the mouth. The woman ran for help as the suspect fled the park.

The woman gave a detailed description of the attacker to the Turlock Police officers and a search of the area was conducted, but no suspect was found. A few hours later an officer on patrol spotted Lara and saw that he recognized the description the woman had provided. Lara was taken into custody and was positively identified by the woman as her attacker.

The defense has argued that Lara’s arrest is a case of mistaken identity.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Linda McFadden order both sides to return to court on Sept. 15 to see if a new date would work.

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