June 14, 2012

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) — A former police detective who blamed the antidepressant Zoloft for his behavior was found guilty Wednesday of kidnapping and raping a waitress at gunpoint in a brutal attack.

A San Bernardino County jury will now have to determine whether Anthony Nicholas Orban was sane at the time of the attack.

Orban’s attorney argued during trial that his client suffered a psychotic break because he was taking Zoloft and was effectively unconscious when he kidnapped the woman in the Ontario Mills mall parking lot in San Bernardino County.

Prosecutors say the off-duty officer used his service weapon to force the woman to drive to a self-storage lot, where he sexually assaulted her and shoved a gun in her mouth on April 3, 2010. The woman escaped when Orban was distracted by an incoming cellphone call, prosecutors said.

Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus declined to comment on the verdict, noting the sanity phase of the trial begins Tuesday.

Orban, a 32-year-old who served in the Marines in Iraq, had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to eight counts, including kidnap and rape. Defense attorney James Blatt said the crux of the case is not the elements of the crime but whether his client was aware of what he was doing.

Blatt said his client had been taking Zoloft for six months, but had gone off the medication and recently restarted it. Orban does not recall the incident, Blatt said.

“This is something that appears to be totally out of character for him,” Blatt said.

If Orban is found to have been sane, he could face a life sentence, Blatt said. If he is found to have been insane, he would be sent to a mental institution for treatment.

The woman, who was 25 at the time of the attack, testified that Orban sexually assaulted her, punched her, choked her, stuck a gun in her mouth and took cellphone photos of her. She told jurors that the attacker did not appear disoriented or unconscious, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

But she also testified that at the end of the attack, he looked at her and asked: “Who are you? How did I get here? Whose car is this?”

A friend of Orban’s, Jeff Jelinek, testified against him. Prosecutors said the former prison guard and Orban had been drinking at the mall and Jelinek was standing next to Orban during the kidnapping and picked him up after the attack.

In a plea deal with prosecutors, Jelinek pleaded no contest last year to being an accessory, false imprisonment and assault.

Category: News

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