Balboa Park Sex Assault Suspect Wanted Phone, Not Rape: Defense

Ameen Bryant, 21, is accused of attacking a woman along Balboa Park's Bridle Trail on Jan. 14, forcing himself on top of her

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man accused of a daytime Balboa Park attack told jurors he wasn’t trying to rape a woman but trying to steal her phone. NBC 7's Megan Tevrizian has more on the trial of Ameen Ali Bryant. (Published Monday, Aug 18, 2014)

    A man accused of a daytime Balboa Park attack wasn’t trying to rape a woman but trying to steal her phone, his defense attorney told jurors Monday.

    Ameen Ali Bryant, 21, is on trial for assault with intent to commit rape in connection with an attack that happened Jan. 14.

    The victim was walking along Bridle Trail on her lunch break around 1:15 p.m. She testified Monday that the defendant ran up behind her, grabbed her, put his bare hands on her skin and forced her to the ground.

    "I was thinking to myself that I need to turn around or else it's going to be all over," she said describing how she began fighting the attacker who at that time was sitting on her hips.

    "I believed I was going to be raped," the woman testified.

    Defense attorney Richard Jayakumar said his client had identified the victim as his “mark” and had planned to steal her mobile phone to trade for drugs.

    When she screamed rape, Jayakumar said his client “freaked out.”

    “He takes some dirt and puts it in her face thinking that this going to somehow obscure her, distract her, so he can get up and run away,” the attorney explained.

    When the defendant took the stand in his own defense, he did admit to attacking the victim.

    However, Bryant said he did it only after she made the first move.

    "She moved, tried to put her hands on me, trying to fight me or something," Bryant told the jury. "That's when I was like... you know, that's the only reason why I put my hands on her. Other than that, it would've never happened."

    During the struggle, two people coincidentally walked onto the trail, which police believe scared off the attacker.

    Detectives released a detailed description and composite sketch of the suspect on Jan. 21. The next day, Bryant was arrested as the suspect in the sexual assault case.

    Under cross-examination, the victim testified that the defendant did not say he wanted to rape her and did not touch private areas of her body.

    The prosecutor said Bryant is a documented gang member with a prior strike for robbery in 2012. He’s currently on parole for that offense. If convicted of the Balboa Park sex crime Bryant faces a maximum of 12 years in state prison.

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