Los Banos man convicted of raping two men wants new trial

Sun-Star StaffFebruary 25, 2014 

A Los Banos man convicted of drugging and raping two men wants a new attorney and a new trial, according to Merced Superior Court documents.

Thomas Zavaleta plans to file a motion seeking a new trial at a hearing on May 2, authorities said.

Deputy District Attorney Monika Saini said Zavaleta confirmed his intentions at a hearing Friday.

Zavaleta, 25, was found guilty last year of raping two men in June 2012 and August 2012 after a two-week trial before Judge Marc A. Garcia.

Prosecutors said Zavaleta doped both men with gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB. He photographed an unconscious 21-year-old man and filmed his sexual assault on a 24-year-old man. The 17-minute video and the photographs were shown to the jury during the trial.

After the trial, several jurors said the video evidence and Zavaleta’s own testimony were the key factors in their verdict. Jurors said Zavaleta appeared to contradict himself when questioned by Saini.

In a recorded interview with Los Banos police, Zavaleta acknowledged both men were unconscious when he recorded or photographed them, but claimed they wanted sex. Both victims testified that they did not consent to any sexual activity.

Zavaleta remains in custody at the Merced County Jail.

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