Saratoga Springs assault trial opens with surveillance video of attack
BALLSTON SPA Jurors saw surveillance video Tuesday of a woman’s late-night beating a year ago in Saratoga Springs, as the trial of Antonio Lopez Bautista opened in Saratoga County Court.
Bautista, now 19, is being tried on first-degree assault, attempted first-degree rape and other charges in the alleged assault of a 67-year-old woman outside a tavern at Congress and South Franklin streets.
Attorneys made their opening statements Tuesday and jurors saw surveillance video taken from cameras at the West Side Stadium Cafe, a bar and restaurant.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Schettino said the beating started about 3:43 a.m. May 22, 2012, and lasted 31⁄2 minutes. She made clear in her opening that the surveillance video footage is a major part of her case.
“The video will put you in that parking lot and you will see the 31⁄2-minute beating for yourself,” she told the seven-man, five-woman jury.
Defense attorney Stacey Gorman, in her opening statement, asked jurors to keep an open mind.
“Just remember one thing, there’s two sides to every story,” she said.
The victim was sitting in the driver’s seat of a pickup truck, waiting for her husband, who was cleaning the closed bar, when prosecutors said she was assaulted by a man police identified as Bautista.
In the footage, the victim drives up with her husband. The husband places items in a trash bin, then enters the building through the kitchen door. Seconds later, a man is seen walking up and opening the driver’s side door of the pickup. The woman is seen in an extended struggle not to be pulled from the vehicle, grasping an seat belt strap at one point. The man committing the assault can be seen appearing to punch the woman repeatedly before he pulls her out of the camera frame.
A different camera then picks up activity near the Congress Street sidewalk, where Bautista is accused of trying to rape the woman. The figures are farther from the camera than in the first video and the action more difficult to interpret, but Schettino said the victim’s T-shirt and underclothing were torn off, and there was an attempt to rape her.
In the video, a figure clearly runs away as a police car with its lights flashing approaches. Schettino said neighbors who heard the woman screaming called 911.
Saratoga Springs police said the woman was found nearly naked, and Bautista was caught a short distance away, having run into a fenced-off area behind Legends Cafe.
Schettino said the woman was taken to Saratoga Hospital by ambulance for treatment of cuts and bruises and was diagnosed a few days later with damage to her retinas.
“She’s going to tell us her vision is not what it used to be,” Schettino said in her opening.
The charges against Bautista, who remains behind bars, include first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, attempted first-degree rape, attempted second-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery, first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of second-degree assault. He is also charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, a misdemeanor.
Bautista, whom police said is in the United States illegally, is being provided a Spanish interpreter during the trial, which is expected to last about a week before Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano.