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Verdict reached but sealed in trial of teen accused in rapes of two girls

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A verdict was reached Thursday in the trial of a 17-year-old boy accused of conspiring with a friend to kidnap and rape two girls in a Rancho Penasquitos park last year, but the results won't be known until the trial of the co-defendant is over.

William Steven Rodriguez faces 21 charges, including rape, sodomy by force and kidnapping.

Rodriguez is being prosecuted as an adult, as is 17-year-old co-defendant Leonel Contreras, and faces up to 325 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick.

A separate jury is hearing the evidence in Contreras' trial, which is scheduled to continue Monday in the courtroom of Judge Peter Deddeh and wrap up sometime that week.

In her closing argument of Rodriguez's trial, Patrick said the defendants had a plan to assault the girls on Sept. 3, 2011, and Contreras told Rodriguez that he had a knife.

But Rodriguez's attorney, Dana Feuling, said there was no conspiracy between the defendants and that her client acted on "impulse."

She said Rodriguez cooperated after his arrest and admitted what he did.

"(Expletive) happens," Rodriguez told police. "The body is weak when it sees flesh."

Feuling said Rodriguez was not guilty of sodomy, rape by a foreign object or conspiracy.

Patrick told jurors in her opening statement that the victims, then 15 and 16 years old, were friends who went to a family party on Sept. 3, 2011, in the 12600 block of Spindletop Road.

"They shared a passion for life, family and the Christian faith," Patrick said. "The two defendants took their innocence from them."

The prosecutor said Rodriguez and Contreras were out smoking marijuana when they spotted the two girls as they took a nighttime walk along a greenbelt running behind a residential neighborhood.

The boys accosted them, with Contreras holding a knife, and forced them to a more secluded area, using threats to make them stay quiet, she alleged.

According to the prosecutor, the defendants subjected them to "a brutal 30- to 40-minute series of sexual assaults that included every imaginable kind of rape."

Patrick said graffiti found in the open space resulted in a tip that led investigators to Rodriguez, who told police what happened. Police then tracked down Contreras.

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