November 28, 2013
City News Service
The California Supreme Court refused this week to review the case of a man convicted of sexually assaulting 10 women in Los Angeles and Orange counties between 1997 and 2006.
Robert Charles Lee was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2012 of 36 counts, including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, forcible sodomy and first-degree burglary.
In a Sept. 19 ruling, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support Lee’s conviction for forcible oral copulation and forcible rape involving an April 2001 attack on a woman who was asleep alone in her apartment, along with a knife-use allegation involving a June 2005 attack on another woman.
But the panel reduced Lee's sentence by 323 years, resulting in a new prison term of 441 years and eight months to life.
Authorities said the victims were attacked in their homes, many at knifepoint. Most of the women were “elderly and disabled,” according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. One of the victims was attacked on two different dates.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Martha Carrillo presented DNA evidence linking Lee to the assaults, which began in October 1997 with an attack investigated by the LAPD’s Harbor Division. Police and prosecutors said Lee followed a similar pattern in attacking his victims.
Lee, who lived in Fullerton, was arrested in June 2006 after DNA evidence linked him to attacks in Los Angeles, Gardena, Carson and Brea.
Police from several jurisdictions teamed up to investigate the case after DNA evidence pointed to a single suspect. In the weeks before his arrest, Lee raped a woman in her Brea apartment. He entered through a sliding glass door and confronted her while she slept. His last assault was June 15, 2006.
Lee’s trial attorney, Patricia Green, argued during the trial that there was no “pattern” or “commonality” implicating Lee in the assaults. She noted that in their testimony, some of the victims described their assailant as a Hispanic, and two of them said the attacker stood 5 feet 7 or less in height, while Lee is Black, and 6 feet 1 inch in height.
“The commonality? The pattern? There isn’t one,” Green said in her closing argument.