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A Troubled Rape Case Becomes Even More Troubling

After Contra Costa County prosecutors agree to a dodgy plea deal that they hoped would advance their case against a former political rival, the felon they released allegedly terrorizes a couple.

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The following day, Superior Court Judge Brian Haynes waived the $130,000 bail for Gordon on his own recognizance. Haynes may have broken the law when he released Gordon. The California Penal Code requires judges to explain on the record anytime they waive bail on a person suspected of committing a felony in which they inflict great bodily injury on another person, which Gordon did when he struck his victim with a sledgehammer. According to court documents, Haynes put no such explanation into the record.

Judge Haynes declined to comment, but he is closely associated with O'Malley. Haynes threw a fundraiser for O'Malley when the latter ran for judge in 2000, according to Deputy District Attorney Doug MacMaster. Meanwhile, Haynes' wife works as a clerk in the office of Judge Ann O'Malley, Dan O'Malley's wife.

Mark Harrison, a private investigator who is working for Gressett, said the presence of the two prosecutors in the DA's office says a lot about the weakness of their case against Gressett. "The fact that the DA's top brass was there for the meeting shows how desperate they are to destroy Mike," Harrison said.

Harrison said their involvement also shows how closely linked the Gressett case is to the current election for district attorney. If O'Malley loses the election to Deputy District Attorney Mark Peterson, Baker and Sequeira's fall from grace is expected to be swift and possibly humiliating.

Baker, Sequeira, and District Attorney Kochly did not return calls to the Express. But in an interview with the Contra Costa Times, Sequeira defended the Deguzman deal, and admitted that it led directly to Gordon's release. "It's kind of that risk-reward," he said. "She gave us the kind of stuff you can't have DAs doing."

But on August 4, just before she was scheduled to testify at Gressett's job arbitration hearing, Deguzman told county officials that she had lied about having sex with Gressett. "I admitted I was lying because of the guilt," said Deguzman, who has publicly apologized to Gressett. "Of course, I would say anything if it would get my boyfriend out. Anybody with a loved one in jail would do the same thing."

Harrison said that prosecutors could easily have discovered that she was lying if they had ever bothered to check out her story. But he said they were evidently so eager to get dirt on Gressett that they didn't bother verifying any of the details before they released Gordon.

Deguzman may have outsmarted the second and third most powerful prosecutors in the county into releasing her boyfriend from jail on his own recognizance with a half-baked story about sexual misconduct. But Gordon wasn't out of jail for long.

About four months after the DA's office sprung Gordon from jail, on April 23, 2009, Pittsburg residents Leslie and Reed Black were enjoying a typical Thursday evening. The couple, both 49, watched Survivor, and then Leslie, a school bus driver, and Reed, who works for Contra Costa County mosquito vector control, went to bed. Just after midnight, the couple was awaked by someone persistently ringing their doorbell.

Leslie's 21-year-old son Kyle opened the door to an agitated woman who asked for "Nick." Kyle told the woman no one by that name lived there, then closed the door and returned to his room.

A few minutes later, two intruders kicked in the front door. Reed, a former combat MP, flew out of bed and ran down the darkened hallway. Before he could get oriented, he was face to face with a man armed with a shotgun. Reed grabbed the shotgun and the two men began to wrestle for control of the weapon. That's when Leslie came running down the hall at full speed and threw the full weight of her 200-pound frame into the intruder, who was knocked back several feet. The intruder tried to punch Leslie, who has a brown belt in karate, and she did her best to ward off the blows in what she described as a "wax on, wax off," defense. Then a second intruder came to the door armed with a .45 caliber handgun. He bobbed around, trying to get a clear shot at Leslie. He closed the distance to about three feet from her, and fired. The bullet narrowly missed her head and went through the walls of her son's room.

A moment after the shot, Reed, now in control of the shotgun, fired a blast in the direction of the front door. The shotgun pellets blew a hole in the couple's recliner ("It was very dark in the living room and Reed didn't have his glasses," Leslie explained). The shotgun blast spooked the intruders and they ran from the house into the street where three more accomplices using handguns fired as many as 35 shots as they fled the scene, according to Pittsburg police.

Reed got off one more shot, which lodged six double ought buckshot pellets in his neighbor's tow truck and a single pellet in the leg of one of the intruders. Luckily, Leslie and Reed were not seriously hurt. "From start to finish, it couldn't have been more than 45 seconds," Leslie said. "It all happened so fast, there wasn't any time to be scared."

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