In what was a roller coaster hearing in Charlestown Court on Friday morning, March 1, Judge Lawrence McCormack oversaw two shocking revelations in the January kidnapping case involving Victor Pena.
First, doctors at Bridgewater State Hospital have determined that he is competent to stand trial.
Second, the Boston Police had filed three charges of aggravated rape against Pena on Thursday, Feb. 28 – taking the case to a whole new level.
And then lastly to the media, Pena’s brother said he was 100 percent sure that there was no kidnapping and anything that happened was consensual.
The name of the victim had been quite public in January when she was reported missing and after police found her in the Bunker Hill Development, but due to the fact that she is now a victim, her name is no longer being used. The victim had disappeared after leaving Hennessey’s Bar in downtown Boston on a frigid night in January. Using video and cell phone tracking, the family and Boston Police eventually found her several days later in Pena’s apartment in Bunker Hill. Police were in the process of drilling through a secondary lock on his door when Pena opened the door and Police found the victim standing inside with a “horrified” look on her face.
ADA Ian Polumbaum told the court right off the bat on Friday that Pena – who had been committed to Bridgewater the last time he was in the court – was deemed fit to stand trial.
“Things have changed since the last time we were here,” he said. “The last time we heard the complaint and there was a commitment. After extensive mental testing, the defendant has come back from Bridgewater and they have found that he is competent to stand trial.”
At the same time, the three new aggravated rape charges against Pena were revealed. Judge McCormack impounded those charges and agreed to arraign Pena on the new charges – as well as hold his competency hearing – on March 15 in Charlestown Court.
“These reports are impounded,” he said. “That means that they are not to be given out or shown to anyone other than those involved in the case.”
With the serious new charges filed, family members and their attorney, Bill Barabino, said they will defend Pena.
“This was consensual,” said Jose Pena, of New Jersey. “My best guess is she has a boyfriend and now she has to go with this version. I’m pretty sure there was nothing that got out of control. You go with a persona couple days and the next thing you know they are accusing you of kidnapping…I know that the truth here will all come to light. I really doubt he did it. I 100 percent doubt it…You’re not going to walk two miles with him from the train, seeing several people, and not yell or scream if there is force. She had her phone too and she could have called.”
Jose Pena also played a voicemail recording of Pena’s ex-wife, with whom he has two children. In that recording, she stated how heartbroken she was and how sure she was that Pena would never commit such crimes.
Jose Pena said his brother is slow mentally, and that mental issues run in the family. He said his father’s twin brother spent his entire life in a mental institution, and his brother has struggled as well.
“It’s clear there is something wrong,” he said. “I grew up with my brother. I know him. He’s slow. He may be 38, but mentally he’s 13 or 14. He only got to the second grade.”
Attorney Barabino said that his client voluntarily opened the door when he noticed someone drilling a hole in his lock. When asked if his client held the victim against, her will, he said that would be up to a jury.
“That’s ultimately what a trial is for,” he said.
“What we know now is she was at his place and the police came,” he said. “When he opened the door, she was on her cell phone and made calls during that period of time.”
Pena will appear in court again on March 15.