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Spencer Scarber speaks up in his rape trial

Friday, March 15, 2013

A new twist in an already bizarre case: Convicted rapist Spencer Scarber speaks up for the first time about the case against him, and makes a plea to have his story told. -- three months after he disappeared in the middle of his own rape trial.

"I would like to request a change of counsel to get a retrial and my side be heard," Scarber said. Scarber is the son of assistant CHP chief Kyle Scarber.

The chief, his wife, and a daughter were all arrested, but have not been charged yet in connection with spencer's disappearance.

Action News broke the story when Spencer vanished in December, and when he was arrested in Mexico last month. He's had a couple chances to speak before Thursday: He was set to testify the day he disappeared, apparently headed to Mexico, and Action News offered him the chance to speak when he came back to Fresno.

But his first words about the case came in court today as he positioned himself to get a new trial. Spencer Scarber is accused of running away from his rape trial in December, but now he wants to do it all over again.

We're not allowed to show you his face in court, but the 20-year-old claims his attorney, Antonio Alvarez, was ineffective -- leaving out several key elements during the trial.

"He didn't ask questions," Scarber said. "I had about three pages of questions I wanted him to ask about each person on the stand. He did not follow my requests. He did not ask the questions."

Prosecutors used DNA evidence and Scarber's taped confession to pin the crime on him. But Scarber disappeared the day his defense was supposed to start and he was supposed to take the stand.

His father -- an assistant chief at the California Highway Patrol -- reported him missing that morning, but a family car was spotted driving into Mexico a few hours earlier.

Investigators say his mother and sister walked back into the country a short time later. In the meantime, Alvarez pushed on with the trial and convinced the jury to find his client not guilty of one of the counts against him -- saving him as much as 40 years in prison.

Months later, Fresno County sheriff's deputies arrested Scarber in Acapulco and returned him to Fresno. And in his return to court Thursday, the judge disagreed with Scarber's claim that his attorney was ineffective.

"Under the circumstances available to him, the defendant received the most effective representation possible," said Fresno Superior Court Judge Edward Sarkisian, Jr.

The judge said allowing Scarber to replace Alvarez with Charles Magill would interfere with the process of justice.

Prosecutor Leanne Le Mon agreed, saying Scarber's claims are frivolous and any further delays would be unfair.

"The defendant created this position," she said. "He created a situation where he fled and where now the people and the victim and the court are having this case drawn out." Spencer Scarber is still due to be sentenced next month. He's facing about 70 years to life in prison. His father has been on leave from the CHP since his son disappeared in December.

He and Spencer's mother and sister could still face charges. They're due in court next week.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fresno, fresno county, local, corin hoggard
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