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Rape suspect gets more time to prepare defense

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

March 11, 2006

The attorney of a suspected rapist asked Hood River County Circuit Court Judge Paul Crowley on Thursday for more time to review some of the evidence against his client before the case went forward.

Brian Starns wanted to look at the photographs taken from the crime scene and the lab results of DNA tests. He also expressed interest in unspecified “miscellaneous” items gathered as part of the investigation against Ruperto Gonzaga-Gama, 18.

The junior at Hood River Valley High School is being held on $100,000 cash bail at NORCOR. He was arrested on Feb. 14 in connection with the sexual assault of a Collins Road woman.

Gonzaga-Gama was found sitting inside the victim’s stolen SUV just minutes after she reported being raped at knifepoint and then tied up. Fifteen minutes after that 9-1-1 call was made, Sheriff Joe Wampler, flying a search plane, spotted the vehicle parked behind a farm shed along Imai Road.

According to reports, Gonzaga-Gama, a Mexican national who also resided on Collins Road, later confessed to the attack.

Sewell told Crowley at the March 9 hearing that most of the items requested by Starns were readily provided. However, he said the DNA testing was being done at the state crime lab and he was unsure if the results would be available by 11 a.m. on March 16.

Crowley granted a delay before the plea date was set to ensure that Starns had all of the information he needed to represent the teenager.

However, he said Gonzaga-Gama, by law, had a right to have a trial within two months unless he specified otherwise.

“We absolutely need to address the 60-day issue at that point (next week) since we will be exactly one-half through that time period,” said Crowley.

Gonzaga-Gama has been charged with five counts of felony rape, two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery and auto theft.

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