The alleged victim of a former Sacramento police officer who is on trial on charges of raping her testified briefly today in a hearing to determine whether she is competent enough to be a witness in the trial.
But Sacramento Superior Court Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan deferred a ruling until next week on whether the woman needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist on her competency.
Defendant Gary Dale Baker's attorney, Linda Parisi, had filed a motion for the judge to order the psychiatric evaluation.
Parisi declined to comment after Thursday's hearing in which the elderly woman at times appeared to understand the questions put to her but on other occasions appeared to stumble.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday used a computer at the lawyers' table to type questions and show them to the 78-year-old woman. The prosecutor then addressed them verbally to the alleged victim, whose speech has been impaired by aphasia since she suffered a stroke in 2009. Aphasia is a brain dysfunction that can be brought on by a stroke or head trauma.
The woman sat at the attorneys' table next to the prosecutor, just two seats over from 49-year-old Baker, the fired police officer accused of raping and sexually assaulting her during three visits to her residence in November 2010 and again last September and December.
Asked how many children she had, the woman, who has six, correctly answered: "five and one." She also correctly answered the color of two pens Holliday held up for her. But when asked to identify the color of a third, yellow pen, the woman responded, "Fifteen." Asked if it would be true to say that a green pen is red, she said, "Green."
She was not able to answer Holliday's question of whether she knew the difference between a chair and a table, but she did spell out on a piece of paper what she had for lunch Wednesday: "t-e-a" and an "o-r-a-n-g-e."
Under questioning from Parisi, the woman had trouble answering some basic questions to test her competency. After she was sworn in, Parisi asked the woman what she meant by "yes" when she agreed to tell the truth.
"Nobody," the woman said.
"Where are you now?" Parisi asked. "Nothing," she replied.
"Where are you now?" Parisi asked again. "Me? At home. My brother."
"What does it mean to tell the truth," the lawyer asked. "Nobody. Me. Nothing," was the reply.
Parisi then asked the alleged victim if "the truth means nothing to you," which brought on an objection from the prosecutor, who said the defense attorney mischaracterized the aphasic woman's response.
The woman appeared to grow more confused as Parisi pressed her on the meaning of the truth, before the judge stepped in to ask some questions through the prosecutor's typing of them on a computer screen.
"Where are you now?" the judge asked. The woman at first replied, "Yes, I am at home," but then responded, "Here."
"Do you understand what it means to tell the truth?" Meegan asked. "Yes, I do," the woman replied.
When the judge asked, "What does it mean to tell the truth?" the woman pointed to the clerk who had administered the oath and answered, "Yes, I do."
Meegan, after conferring with the lawyers in her chambers, ordered everybody back to court on Monday, when the hearing will resume.
Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.