A prosecutor promised jurors on Wednesday that they will see “incredible amounts of evidence” linking a former California police officer to the sexual assault of a Las Vegas teenager.
During her opening statement to the jury, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mary Kay Holthus credited the then-14-year-old victim with providing numerous details that helped authorities bring charges against the defendant, Shawn Shelton.
The victim “turned out to be one amazing kid,” the prosecutor said during her opening statement.
Holthus told jurors that “the badge is meant to protect and serve,” but in this case, “the badge was used to prey on a child.”
The victim, now 15, took the witness stand Wednesday and identified Shelton as the man who flashed a badge on May 21 to convince him to get into a Hummer SUV.
The teenager said the man, who claimed to be a police officer investigating a murder case, later handcuffed him and forced him to perform oral sex.
Shelton is being tried on charges of sexual assault on a minor, first-degree kidnapping, battery with intent to commit sexual assault on a minor, robbery and use of a minor in the production of pornography.
His attorney, Carmine Colucci, declined to make an opening statement Wednesday. Colucci said he would wait to make his statement until the defense begins presenting its case.
Prosecutors previously charged Shelton with intentional transmission of the AIDS virus. They said he knew he had the human immunodeficiency virus before the attack on the boy, who has not tested positive for HIV.
In September, prosecutors dismissed the charge because of insufficient evidence. They have declined to elaborate, and neither Holthus nor the victim mentioned Shelton’s medical condition during Wednesday’s proceedings.
During his testimony, the boy said he is 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds. He looks diminutive compared with Shelton. The prosecutor said Shelton’s driver’s license gives his height and weight as 5 feet 11 inches and 211 pounds.
The victim, who wore bluejeans and a black T-shirt to court, said he was waiting with his skateboard at a bus stop on Desert Inn Road when a man pulled up in a black Hummer H2. He said the man told him he matched the description of a boy wanted in a triple homicide.
“He said he was an officer, and he flashed a badge,” the victim said.
The boy said he clambered into the passenger side of the vehicle and gave the man the name of his school, his home address and his date of birth. The man then told him he needed to take him to the police station to get more information.
After driving to another area, the man stopped the vehicle and told the boy he was going to take his fingerprints, the boy testified. Instead, the man handcuffed and searched him, the boy said.
They then traveled to a desert area, and the boy said he noticed a pornographic image on a laptop computer in the vehicle.
“I asked him if I could see the badge again because I was getting a little suspicious,” the boy testified.
The teenager said the man then placed him face down in the back seat, tightened the handcuffs and began molesting him. The boy said he screamed, but the man threatened to shoot him and slammed his head into his skateboard.
Without showing any emotion, the boy described how the man then turned him over and forced him to perform oral sex.
Holthus told jurors that Shelton also forced the victim to swallow his semen, but the boy wiped his mouth out with the bottom of his shirt, where authorities found DNA matching the defendant.
During the assault, the boy testified, his attacker threatened to take Polaroid pictures. The victim said he saw a flash and closed his eyes.
After the attack, the man released the boy, who ran the short distance to his home and told his mother, who called police.
The description he gave of his attacker matched Shelton, who was 39 at the time, Holthus said.
The teenager said he noticed as he fled that his cell phone was missing from his pocket. That’s the root of the robbery charge against Shelton.
News reports about the case included the boy’s descriptions of his attacker and the vehicle he was driving, and those descriptions caught the attention of Wendy Wilder, a Las Vegas woman and friend of Shelton, Holthus told the jurors.
Wilder, who was planning to move in with Shelton, called police. When she described a .50-caliber bullet that Shelton had on his key chain, “she was taken seriously,” Holthus said.
The victim had described the same key chain to police, the prosecutor said.
Shelton, a former sergeant with the Manhattan Beach Police Department, was arrested May 26 in Corona, Calif., after he was stopped in a black Hummer H2. Holthus said a search of the vehicle turned up numerous items the victim had described, including the unusual key chain.
When cross-examined by Colucci in court Wednesday, the boy acknowledged that he did not tell a police detective who interviewed him that his attacker had slammed his head into his skateboard.
“And you didn’t tell her that because it didn’t happen, right?” Colucci asked.
“It happened,” the boy replied.