INDIO (CBS) — A Los Angeles man was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for raping a woman at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, where he was working as a parking lot attendant.
Darin Ledale Garrett, 46, was convicted Dec. 16 of rape by force, sexual battery and other charges stemming from the April 30, 2011, attack.
The victim did not attend or speak at the sentencing. Garrett spoke briefly, as did several of his family members.
“I just wanted to say to (the victim’s) family that I’m very sorry,” the defendant said. “I worked with the public all the time … and this thing would never happen again.”
Riverside County Superior Court Judge David B. Downing said he have Garrett the mid-range sentence — he could have gotten anywhere from roughly six to 16 years — because the victim was “particularly vulnerable” on one hand, but, on the flip side, Garrett had no criminal record.
“He has a clear record, so that makes a difference to me,” Downing said.
He explained to Garrett’s family that he was required to send the defendant to prison.
“Rape is a major crime, everybody. This is a bad offense,” the judge said.
He said he was impressed that Garrett’s family came to the sentencing.
“In felony sentencings, I never see family members come. To see family members is very positive for Mr. Garrett,” the judge said.
Pervis Jackson said his son was “a hard worker and a good man.”
“He’s been around women, so I don’t know what happened, so if you have mercy on him I’d appreciate it,” Jackson said.
Garrett’s stepbrother, Charles Johnson, said Garrett was raised in church.
“He has a good background and training, and this is a one-time incident,” Johnson said.
Garrett’s stepsister, Tina Johnson, apologized to the victim’s family.
“It’s embarrassed our whole family, and I doubt very seriously it would ever happen again,” she said.
Garrett’s son, Jonathan Applewhite, said his father had never done anything like that before, while stepmother Linda Jackson said he had worked at events like Stagecoach before and had a good work ethic.
Garrett’s attorney, Joshua Mulligan, reiterated that his client had no previous criminal record.
“I don’t think it’s something he would have done in any other situation and he’s someone not likely to get in trouble again,” Mulligan said.
Deputy District Attorney Brijida Rodarte said Garrett in his testimony made the situation play out like a “courtship.”
“This is not a getting to know you, this is not a romance … there is no way around this — how did her pants come off? He pulled her clothing off her,” Rodarte said.
She said Garrett “knew exactly what he was doing. He knew in two minutes he’d have her on the ground as a rape victim.”
She said the victim tried to push Garrett off, and begged him to stop.
“That’s how he left her, on the ground with her pants down,” she said.
The prosecutor said Garrett “lured (the victim) into a false sense of security.”
“He is not apologetic for the crime. He’s apologetic for the facts he has presented to the court and the fact he got caught,” Rodarte said.
Downing said the fact that the victim was intoxicated “doesn’t make Mr. Garrett less culpable, it makes him more culpable because he took advantage of a drunk girl.”
The woman testified at the trial that a parking lot attendant at Stagecoach helped her find a friend’s car, then forced himself on her, held her to the ground and raped her last spring.
“I was still hoping to make him go away and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said. “He pushed me down on my back on the ground; I’m pushing and telling him to stop and he just keeps telling me it’s fine.”
She said she began to cry, begged him to stop and called for help.
“I could hear the music from the concert and just hoped someone would be coming soon,” said the Los Angeles woman, who is in her early 20s.
She said she heard someone coming, and her attacker got up and walked away.
“I remember a woman rush up and ask if I was hurt. I was sobbing,” she said. “(I told) her that he raped me, that was all I could say.”
The rape occurred around 9:50 p.m. on the opening night of Stagecoach, which is held annually at Indio’s Empire Polo Grounds.
The woman testified that she became separated from her companions at the music festival and Garrett helped her find a friend’s car. She said she had had seven or eight drinks and was “feeling the buzz” that night.
She said that after she thanked Garrett, he exposed himself and would not leave when she told him she wasn’t interested. She testified that he pulled her shirt down, groped her, forced her to perform oral sex, pulled down her shorts and raped her.
Rodarte told jurors that nurses later found bruises on the victim’s body, and DNA matching Garrett’s was collected during the rape exam. The woman later picked Garrett out of a photo lineup, the prosecutor said.
Garrett was arrested the day after the attack in his room at the Palm Tree Inn. He testified that he did not attack the woman but, rather, let her use his cellphone, helped her find a friend’s car and then left.
He said the woman seemed intoxicated when she approached him in the parking lot at the festival and asked to use his cell phone. He let her use it to call a friend, then she embraced him, he testified.
“We hugged and kissed,” he said.
He said she leaned back on the hood of someone’s car, and he pulled her to her feet.
“I picked her up off that car and then we started walking toward the (friend’s) vehicle,” he said. “… I said, I’m going back to my (station) and we split up.”
He said he went back to her when he heard her say she found the vehicle.
Garrett testified that he told her to sit where her friends could see her.
In a videotaped interview shown in court, Garrett told Indio Police Detective Oscar Santos that he “stayed visible” that night and “didn’t do nothing.”
“She said you had sex with her,” Santos said in the video, telling Garrett the woman had a physical examination.
“I didn’t do none of that because I was working,” Garrett responded.
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