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The San Bernardino County month-long trial of ex-detective Anthony Nicholas Orban has ended with the jury of eight women and five men delivering guilty verdicts on all eight counts. The deliberation took less than a day. Orban will attend another two day trial on Tuesday, June 19 to face a sanity hearing; if he is found to be sane he will face a life sentence in prison.
Orban, a former Iraqi marine veteran, was accused of kidnapping and raping a waitress April 3, 2010. He was charged with one count of kidnapping, two counts of rape, two counts of forced oral copulation, two counts of penetration with a foreign object, and one count of criminal threat. According to the LA Times, the victim gave unflinching, graphic testimony of the attack that was the most compelling evidence in the trial.
Orban kidnapped the waitress at gunpoint and forced her to drive to Fontana Storage Facility. He then punched, slapped, choked, and took cell phone photos of her during the rape. He then shoved his police service weapon in her mouth and threatened to kill her if she did not stop crying. She testified that at the end of the assault “he pulled the gun out and said, ‘I think we’ll continue this in the desert.’” When Orban became distracted by a cell phone call, the woman ran back to her car and drove to a nearby liquor store for help. Police later found Orban’s weapon in her car with his name on it.
Obran admitted to attacking the woman, but claims that he was “unconscious” of his actions because of his antidepressant, Zoloft. The sanity hearing that is to be held on June 19 will determine whether or not this defense is valid. If Orban is found legally insane, at least at the time of the crime, he will be sent to a mental health facility for treatment and could be released later.
James Blatt, Orban’s attorney, stated, “what it comes down to is whether, at the time of this incident, he understood the difference between right and wrong.” Elyn Saks, head of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics has stated that the insanity defense in any case is a “high hurdle” and that this defense is “a difficult case to make, and it’s a difficult case to win.”
The defense’s sole witness is Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist from New York and a critic of psychiatric drugs. Dr. Breggin has already testified that Orban suffered from a psychological break after he stopped his medication and then resumed taking it at a full dosage.
The victim also testified that at the end of the assault Orban asked her, “who are you? How did I get here? Whose car is this?”
Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus has called the Zoloft defense a “bunch of baloney.” Dr. Douglas Jacobs, a clinical professor at Harvard University, has stated that Zoloft is completely safe and that Orban’s actions probably were influenced by his alcohol consumption that night.
Orban had eight margaritas and two pitchers of beer that he split with a friend, former prison guard Jeff Jelinek. Jelinek testified that Orban was looking for sex that night. Jelinek was also present when Orban kidnapped the woman and picked him up after the assault. Although he was originally charged as an accessory to false imprisonment and assault he worked out a deal with the District Attorney’s office and entered a plea of no contest, according to the Huffington Post.