De La Fuente Jr. faces five separates counts, which include rape and sexual assaults on four women, three of whom are admitted prostitutes. The suspected rapes occurred between October 2003 and April 2005. He surrendered to police in
The first image of De La Fuente Jr., presented by Deputy District Attorney Brian Owens, is of a reckless bully who cruised the Fruitvale district kidnapping and beating prostitutes before forcing them to have sex without compensation or protection.
The other, presented by the father-and-daughter defense team of Robert and Anne Beles, is of a troubled man with an addiction to prostitutes who was outwitted by streetwise ladies of the night.
Whatever side the jury of seven women and five men believes will determine if De La Fuente Jr., son of City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, will walk away a free man or spend the next 25 years to life behind bars.
Over the next several weeks, the jury will be given a peek into the oldest profession in the world and hear from four prostitutes who said De La Fuente Jr. either raped them or attempted to force them to have sex.
They will listen to the graphic details of what happened in De La Fuente Jr.'s silver GMC pickup and how, over the course of two years, he allegedly preyed on
"All of these victims were picked up in the Fruitvale district, near where he lives in the district his father represents," Owens said as he completed his opening statements.
Before closing his remarks, Owens took jurors through the accounts each of the four women accusing De La Fuente Jr. will testify about later in the trial.
They include rides to secluded areas of the city, beatings and refusals to pay for sex. Each story includes similar circumstances such as a refusal to wear a condom and hasty exits by De La Fuente Jr. Those exits include De La Fuente Jr. throwing women out of his car when he completed the alleged crime, Owens explained.
And on at least two occasions, Owens said, De La Fuente Jr. made crude remarks as he drove away.
"When the defendant was done, his comment to her was that she wasn't any fun," Owens said as he explained one of the incidents.
As Owens paced through the details, De La Fuente Sr., his wife and several family members sat stoically in the courtroom gallery. During breaks, when the jury was outside the courtroom, De La Fuente Jr. turned and smiled at his family.
But the descriptions Owens gave of the incidents and the background of the women involved contrasted sharply with the story told by Robert Beles in his opening remarks.
Beles described the women as professionals, some of whom had drug addictions and all of whom had a motive to claim rape when they were not paid.
"It's a tough business, but these young ladies are streetwise," Beles told the jury. "She claims rape in retaliation. ... It's the prostitute's revenge."
Beles admitted his client had a problem and that he frequently picked up prostitutes, but he denied the women were forced to have sex and that his client refused to pay.
"It may be immoral to you, it may be despicable, ... but that is not the question here," he said.