The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

'Zoloft' Rapist Guilty; Sanity Phase Up Next

Anthony Nicholas Orban claims that he doesn’t remember a thing, reports the Orange County Register. The Iraq War veteran and former Westminster Police Detective was under pharmacological treatment for depression. He claims that he went off of his prescribed Zoloft for a while, and then jumped back on at full dose. The combination of that, and the night’s drinking, led to a break from reality and a gap in his memory.

She remembers it all. The victim was a waitress at Dave and Buster’s. She has just left work when Det. Orban forced his way into her car. He had her drive to an industrial area in Fontana and sexually-assaulted her. At one point, he put his loaded semi-automatic pistol in her mouth. He also punched her with a closed fist and made multiple attempts to choke her.

When they were about to leave for the desert, Orban got a phone call. She took the opportunity to flee, and made it to a liquor store. He took off in her car.

The evidence against him, and a co-defendant, was damning. Orban was taking cell phone pictures and sending them to his friend, Jeff Thomas Jelinek. Jelinek picked Orban up from the gas station where the victim’s car was ditched and helped him escape. Orban was drunk enough to leave his gun and sunglasses in her car.

When Orban’s wife called to report the lost pistol, the police met Orban and Jelinek at the Ontario Mills Mall, where the victim identified them. Jelinek still had her keys.

Since the evidence was so strong, there wasn’t much of a defense on the facts. Jelinek flipped for a plea bargain and testified against Orban. He’ll serve five years and four months in state prison. (Coincidentally, he used to be a state prison guard.)

Orban’s attorney, meanwhile, did not deny his client’s actions. Instead, the defense is banking on the insanity phase of the trial, which starts next.

In California, the insanity phase is separate from the guilt phase of the trial. For cases like this, the defense essentially admits to the crime and takes the guilty verdict. They then try to show that the defendant was insane at the time of the crime.

The test used in this state is the M’Naghten Test, which means that the defendant either did not know what he was doing when he did it (i.e. he thought he was dancing in a field of daisies), or he was so far gone that he could not distinguish right from wrong.

The defense expert, according to the Los Angeles Times, has stated that ceasing the use of Zoloft, followed by a full scale resumption at full dose could cause a psychiatric break. The prosecutor stated that the defense was “baloney” and ran counter to the drug’s known effects.

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