2 more victims testify in Griego rape, kidnap trial

2014-04-09T20:20:00Z 2014-04-10T12:28:05Z 2 more victims testify in Griego rape, kidnap trialBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Two more women prosecutors said were raped last year by Toby Eugene Griego testified Wednesday in the third day of testimony in his trial.

Griego, 42, is being tried on 27 charges stemming from home-invasion robberies, sexual assaults, kidnappings and an attempted sexual assault last year. Prosecutors say he attacked four victims on Jan. 27, April 25, May 27 and July 2.

The two women who testified Wednesday were victims in attacks on May 27 and July 2. They were among the seven witnesses the state called to testify Wednesday.

Both women said they woke to a man in their bedroom, and that the man repeatedly raped them with objects he found in their homes, beat them, forced them to bathe and took them to ATMs to withdraw cash.

Griego watched from 20 feet away as the two women took turns at the witness stand, recounting the attacks. He would often take notes, or look casually back and forth from the women to the two prosecutors in the case, Chief Deputy Yellowstone County attorneys Rod Souza and Juli M. Pierce.

Neither woman ever got a good look at their attacker. But they both testified that they appear in photos prosecutors say were seized from Griego’s phone.

The victims in the first two attacks testified Tuesday. They also testified they can be seen in photos a detective found on Griego’s phone.

Third victim testifies

The third victim said she went to sleep around 10:30 p.m. on May 26. Her roommates were out of town.

“I remember waking up screaming and there was a Taser to the back of my neck,” she said.

Her attacker hog-tied, blindfolded and gagged her, she said, and then choked her with a belt.

“If I tried to look I would be repeatedly hit in the head and he would say, ‘Don't look, don't look,’ so I didn't,” the woman testified.

She said she had a concealed carry permit and kept a 9mm handgun in the top drawer of her dresser.

The attacker found the gun and pressed it against her back. “I thought that if I didn't cooperate he would kill me,” she said.

The woman testified the attacker brought from the kitchen a bottle of red wine, a fourth of a bottle of rum and a fourth of a bottle of vodka and forced her to drink it all.

She said that if she didn't drink fast enough, he would choke her. She believes she drank all the alcohol in about two minutes.

As her attacker raped her with a foreign object, she started vomiting, she said. 

The woman also said she heard what sounded like the click of a camera taking pictures. 

When she offered the attacker money, he took her to Western Security Bank at Grand Avenue and 24th Street. She tried to run away, but the man tackled her to the ground, causing her to smash her head on concrete.

The woman said she was forced to try to withdraw money from the ATM, but she couldn't. She said they then drove to her bank and she again couldn't withdraw money.

She testified they returned to her residence, and she was again raped and shocked with a stun gun, as she continued to vomit and bleed from her head wound. 

“I begged. I pleaded. I did not want it to happen,” she said.

Griego’s ex-girlfriend testified Wednesday that he had bought her a stun gun after she was assaulted at the end of February last year.

The third victim testified that at some point her attacker forced her to shower and then took her back to her room.

She said the attacker threatened to go to her hometown, which he named specifically, and kill her family and friends if she told anyone about what was happening. She said he then covered her with her comforter and left.

The attacker had apparently taken her phone, car keys and other items. She grabbed a knife from the kitchen, found her spare keys and drove to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and called 911.

She was taken to a hospital, where a nurse performed a sexual assault exam.

That nurse, Andrea Wells, testified Wednesday that out of 30 sexual assault exams she has done, she has never seen a victim with so many injuries. 

The woman — who said she was in physical pain for days and now has post-traumatic stress disorder — testified the attack broke up at least one friendship, forced her to stop going to college and prompted her to move away from Billings.

“This is the town I was raped in, Billings,” she said.

One of her roommates testified Wednesday that earlier in May 2013 she bought a mattress and box spring from Mattress Land USA and had them delivered to her home.

She testified two men made the delivery, and that one of them was Griego. She said he spoke to her, asking how safe the neighborhood was because he had a niece who was looking for a place to live.

One of Griego’s two attorneys, Regional Deputy Public Defender David Duke, questioned the roommate about how certain she was that it was Griego who made the delivery.

The roommate said she was certain the delivery man she spoke to was Griego.

Fourth victim testifies

The fourth victim in the case testified Wednesday that she awoke around midnight or 1 a.m. on July 2 to a man in her room, talking to her.

She testified that the attacker used her clothing to bind, gag and blindfold her. "It was terrifying. I felt completely defenseless," she said, going on to say she was then raped with a foreign object.

As with the first three victims, she also said she heard a clicking sound, like a camera.

“When you’re in your own room and a strange man is violating you,” she said. “It is the most horrible thing I’ve ever been through.”

Trying to do anything to make the attack stop, she offered the man money, prompting him to take her to a bank, where she withdrew $200. 

She testified that the attacker took her back to her residence and again raped her with objects.

She said the man then put duct tape over her eyes and mouth and forced her to run, barefoot, to a water-filled ditch near her home. There, he dunked her head in the water repeatedly.

“I just remember thinking, 'you’re not going to die like this,’ ” she said.

She said he then made her get into the ditch and dunked her entire body under the water several times.

The man then took her back to her residence, made her shower, then tied her up again and beat her, she said.  

The woman said the attacker then raped her with objects again and smothered her with a comforter two or three times.

Before he left, he made her scrub off and also scrubbed her, she said.

“He told me that if I told anyone he would kill me,” she said, testifying he had a "very distinct" Hispanic accent. 

After he left, apparently stealing her cellphone and other items, she drove to City Brew on Grand Avenue and called 911. 

The state also admitted as evidence, with objection from Griego’s counsel, a recording of the fourth victim listening to Griego’s voice and identifying him as her attacker.

“That voice. That's his voice. I'm shaking,” the woman can be heard saying after she listens to the recording of Griego’s voice. “My heart is going to come out of my freaking chest.”

Man denies being involved in rapes

The state also called as a witness Michael Biggs, who was arrested Jan. 27, 2013, near the scene of the attack on the first victim.

He said he was under state supervision at the time, after being convicted on a drug charge. On Jan. 26, he had been at a hotel with friends “getting high.”

During the trial Monday and Tuesday, Duke talked about Biggs' arrest, and that Biggs matched the description the first victim gave for her attacker.

Biggs confirmed he was arrested. When he learned he was a rape suspect, “I was like you gotta be joking ... I was kind of disturbed and mad,” he said.

During cross examination by Duke, Biggs confirmed he matched some of the descriptions of the attacker and was wearing similar clothes, but testified he had nothing to do with the rape of the first victim. He said he fully cooperated with investigators, who cleared him as a suspect in the case.

Souza asked him why he cooperated with detectives.

“I was cooperative in this case because I didn't do it,” he said.

He testified he was in custody because of his drug use at the time of the April 25 and May 27 attacks, and that he was staying with family in Townsend on July 2.

Detective begins shoe print testimony

The state’s last witness Wednesday was Billings Police Detective Blake Richardson, who processed the scene of the attack on the third victim, who was raped on May 27.

He testified briefly about making castings of two of six shoe prints found in the mud outside that victim’s residence. He also testified about finding similar shoe prints on a window ledge of the victim’s home.

Prosecutor Souza admitted the castings as evidence shortly before 5 p.m., when testimony in the trial ended for the day.

Richardson is expected continue testifying Thursday, when the trial resumes at 9 a.m.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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