VISTA, Calif. – At times, she struggled to speak. At times, she struggled to breathe. Across a day of testimony here just outside San Diego, she refused, as best she could, from even glancing over in the direction of the man she said violently raped her on the side of a dark, North County road just over a year ago.
“I really don’t want to look at him,” the women identified in court as Jane Doe No. 2 said here Wednesday in what was her typical halting, emotional speech. “I really don’t appreciate it.”
“Don’t appreciate what?” defense attorney Marc Carlos asked.
“That I have to look at my rapist,” she said. “I think he should be [seated] further over.”
The “he” in question is Kellen Winslow II, a former NFL star and the namesake son of a locally beloved former Chargers star. Winslow is on trial for a slew of charges, including raping Doe No. 2, a 59-year-old homeless woman who resided, most nights, behind the train tracks in downtown Encinitas.
“I’d sleep against the wall, that’s so the sheriffs couldn’t see me,” she noted.
Exactly how Winslow, a married, 35-year-old who made some $40 million playing pro football, became, at the very least, “acquaintances” with someone like Doe is a question unto itself.
That he faces life in prison for allegedly raping her, as well as a 55-year-old transient and, back in 2003, an unconscious 17-year-old, has captured the attention of Southern California. He is also charged with five misdemeanor counts stemming from exposing himself to two elderly women, one his neighbor, another who he allegedly encountered in a health club hot tub.
That’s how these two, who resided at the opposite spectrums of San Diego society, wound up in the same courtroom.
One was rich and renowned, the other destitute and discounted.
Despite the reality of her existence, it was Doe No. 2, a slight woman with graying blonde hair, who had control of the trial as she told a harrowing tale of being attacked by Winslow.
It was the powerless pointing a finger, if not her eyes, at the powerful.
The two knew each other, she said, because Winslow often rolled through downtown Encinitas in his black Hummer 2 and talked to homeless and transient women. On their first encounter, she said, he gave her a ride after he discovered her pulling her belongings en route to a shelter. He called himself “Kevin,” she said. He usually offered her food or some cash, usually $25. Once he asked if she’d exchange sex for 50 bucks, but Doe said she declined.
“I am not that type of person,“ she testified.
Then on Mother’s Day 2018, she said he pulled up again, this time to the transit station where she often hung out with other homeless friends.
She walked over to speak with him because, other than the prostitution proposition, he’d always been nice. He asked if she wanted to go get dinner. She suggested coffee. He agreed. She climbed in, bringing all her belongings in crude grocery store bags but forgetting her cell phone, which she’d lent to a friend.
As they drove, she began to get concerned that they were headed in a direction where there were no coffee shops. Then the road, Manchester Avenue, grew dark in the vicinity of the San Elijo Lagoon. That’s when he pulled over, shut the car off, got out and began walking around to the passenger side.
Terrified, she said she locked the door only to have him unlock it with his key fob.
“He like held me, grabbed my arm,” she testified, slowly. “He said, ‘We’re going to have sex.’ I said, ‘Please don’t do this.’ I said it like four times. He said, ‘It’s a done deal.’”
What followed was a forceful and painful attack, Doe left with what she believed was no way out against the 6-foot-5, 240-pound former tight end.
“I was afraid of him,” she said. “He was a super big guy.”
She said he later took her hands and wrapped them around her own neck to choke her in an effort to keep her from screaming. Bent over, halfway in the H2 and half way out – “I just put my head down on the bottom of the car and waited for it to be over.”
Winslow, she said, ejaculated on the ground, not in her. She theorized it was a way to avoid detection later. Indeed, there is no conclusive DNA match in the case. Afterward, she testified, he told her he would kill her if she told anyone. “I just thought it was the end of my life,” Doe said.
He then drove her away from the scene and dropped her off on the side of a different road. She walked back to Encinitas.
The next day, one of her friends in the homeless community, Christina Garvey, sensed something was wrong. “She seemed worried,” Garvey testified. Doe said it was nothing. Garvey kept prying. Eventually Doe described the attack. “She told me she was raped,” Garvey said. Garvey convinced her to go to police. Doe went.
Now she was here, in a gleaming, modern criminal court, her words (but not her image) being broadcast nationally on CourtTV.
She wore slacks, a black and white blouse and a dark blazer, perhaps purchased from the $200 Target gift card the district attorney’s office gave to her. In the days surrounding her testimony, she was put up in a motel. She looked, physically, like a middle-class mom, clean and crisp, not someone who has spent years surviving in the streets.
She clearly has significant challenges in her life, but even through the bouts of confusion, she told a consistent and believable account of the events. She was emotional and sympathetic. She appeared as vulnerable as you’d expect, the hows and whys of her ending up on the margins of American life left mostly unexplored. Her fear of Winslow was palpable.
Whether Winslow was her rapist or not is up to the jury, but she was unlike Jane Doe No. 1. Her testimony on Tuesday fell apart under cross examination due to contradictions and even direct lies – for example, she repeatedly told the jury she hadn’t had a single drink in 30 years only to be confronted by the defense with a slew (11 in all) of arrests for public intoxication.
If Tuesday was about as good of a day as possible for the defense in this kind of a case, then Wednesday presented a far more daunting challenge.
The defense tried to pick away at Doe No. 2 but there weren’t many strings to pull. Perhaps its best hope is her failure to identify Winslow’s black H2 when prosecutor Dan Owens showed her pictures of it — “No, that’s not it,” she said. “I don’t remember it looking like that.”
The defense isn’t done with fighting her accusations, but by mid-afternoon, it was done with its cross-examination. She was losing steam on the stand.
“I’m just very tired, sir,” she said to defense attorney Marc Carlos.
He promised just a few more questions and soon she was dismissed.
Jane Doe No. 2 headed out the back of the courtroom and soon enough, presumably, back to the streets, back to anonymity, back to sleeping against that wall behind the transit station.
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