MARTINEZ -- A Contra Costa County judge on Wednesday stopped a 19-year-old Danville man from pleading guilty to rape in exchange for a three-year prison sentence after one of two girls he's accused of sexually assaulting demanded a jury trial.
"There is not a day that goes by that this sexual assault doesn't haunt me," a 15-year-old girl said at what was supposed to be a change-of-plea hearing for Sam Nesis, the man accused of her rape. "This is not right, and if I have to, I will stick up for the other victims and myself and speak until this is right."
Judge Clare Maier said the girl's comments, as well as concerns about some allegations in Nesis' probation report, compelled her to hold off a decision on whether to accept the Nesis' plea deal offer until Dec. 1, after she's reviewed the evidence in the case. Nesis had been originally scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Wednesday to determine whether he would be going to trial as charged.
"Your comments were very moving to me, very impactful," Maier told the girl.
Nesis is charged with five felony sex crimes for allegedly raping a girl in his 1977 Chevy 1500 van while parked at the Walnut Creek BART station on Feb. 18.
Nesis is also being prosecuted in Contra Costa's juvenile court on at least one sex crime charge after a second girl reported after Nesis' publicized arrest that she was assaulted by him when he was still a minor. Prosecutors would not give any details
Defense attorney Laura Robinson said Wednesday that Nesis had been ready to plead to one count of rape in exchange for a three-year sentence and the dismissal of all other charges related to both his accusers.
The 15-year-old girl and her family came to court Wednesday to protest the proposed deal. She and her parents said they deem Nesis as a violent sexual predator who should be sentenced to life in prison.
"I believe I should have some say on the deal, whether I agree or disagree," the girl said. "What kind of messed up system is this? It's like us victims are the ones with the life sentences."
Prosecutor Derek Butts said there was a great deal of consideration and discussion about the case before the plea offer was made, but the District Attorney's Office would certainly support the judge's decision if she were to reject it.
"We respect always a victim's right to speak out," Butts said. "This is the perfect example of the system working."
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.