A victim during a preliminary hearing Wednesday described her sexual assault at gunpoint that dated back nearly 25 years in Visalia, which investigators say was at the hands of the man accused of killing Fresno State student Debbie Dorian.
The three incidents in 1999 and 2002 in Visalia had several similar characteristics — young women accosted in the street by a man shrouded by a hood who forced them into a secluded area at gunpoint before forcing sexually assaulting them.
Nickey Duane Stane, 56, has been accused of the assaults by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, which is running the prosecution of the Tulare County cases simultaneously with the case for the rape and murder of Dorian, who was found killed in her Fresno apartment Aug. 22, 1996.
The testimony Wednesday included Jane Doe 1, one of four Visalia victims in the case. She was a 19-year-old who had recently moved to town to attend College of the Sequoias, she said while sitting on the witness stand accompanied by one of the prosecution’s service dogs.
“What exactly he did has been in my mind for 25 years,” she said while pausing to hold back her emotion. “The nightmares I’ve had for 25 years.”
1999 assault in Visalia recounted
She had been working at an ice cream shop for about two months on Walnut Avenue near Akers Street, a route she regularly rode to and from on her bike, before the assault July 30, 1999.
She had gotten off of work around 10 p.m. and was headed home a few blocks away on Walnut. At the time, the area was not well developed and was made up of pastures and some dimly lit neighborhoods, according to her testimony.
She described a man who “came out of nowhere” and into her path on the sidewalk who grabbed the handlebars of her mountain bike before pressing a gun into her side. She wasn’t sure what it was until she looked down and saw the black handgun, she said.
He ordered her to come with him. “Don’t say anything. Follow me,” she said, recounting what he said. “If you try to leave, I will kill you.”
She was not asked to identify Stane in court on Wednesday.
She described the assailant as wearing a black hood and red bandanna with only his eyes visible. “What is he going to do?” she said she was thinking. “Am I dead?”
The man took her to a more secluded area near some bushes in a dark neighborhood, which had no street lights, she said. He forced her to her knees and groped her under her clothes while masturbating.
The man then left the area and Jane Doe 1 said she went home and called her sister, who called police.
Visalia police said they collected bodily fluids from the scene.
DNA led to break in Fresno cold case
Prosecutors have previously said they used advances in DNA analysis from Visalia cases to connect Stane to the Fresno case.
Two Visalia police officers on Wednesday also recounted reports they took on Sept. 26, 1999, and Jan. 4, 2002, that involved similar attacks against women at gunpoint.
Earlier in the week, the preliminary hearing included testimony from Dorian’s father, who discovered the bound and lifeless 22-year-old in her apartment in 1996.
Prosecutors have not said if they will pursue the death penalty against Stane if he is convicted. He also faces a potential sentence of life in prison.
Testimony in the preliminary hearing was set to continue on Thursday.