BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Three people charged in a case where a man and woman alleged they were kidnapped and tortured inside an east Bakersfield medical marijuana dispensary have been acquitted of all charges, according to the Kern County Superior Court website.
A jury on Wednesday found Norik Ter-Galstanyan, Alexis Pule and Ingo Gonzalez not guilty on charges stemming from their arrests in 2015.
All three defendants faced kidnapping charges, and Ter-Galstanyan and Gonzalez each faced torture and other charges that could have resulted in life terms in prison.
Reached Wednesday evening, attorney Tony Lidgett, who represented Ter-Galstanyan, said video evidence helped secure the acquittals.
“Just because someone says or claims something, it does not mean it is true,” Lidgett said. “Once again, actual video showed us the truth, and thank God for that.”
Court documents say the alleged victims reported they were held captive early September 2015 inside a marijuana dispensary owned by Ter-Galstanyan where they were beaten and sodomized. The couple claimed Ter-Galstnayan kidnapped them because they owed him $2,000.
A total of five people were arrested after the male victim managed to call 911, according to court documents. Two of them took plea deals and Ter-Galstanyan, Gonzalez and Pule went to trial.
Lidgett and other defense counsel alleged last year that a prosecutor who had previously handled the case failed to disclose information regarding the credibility of the lead investigator.
Prosecutor Courtney Lewis had written a memo to supervisors at the District Attorney’s office saying Detective Dustin Contreras had told other sheriff’s investigators she was not interested in a warrant being served because she was concerned for her safety. Lewis denied ever saying that.
Lewis didn’t turn the memo over to defense counsel until 2 1/2 years later, and a judge removed her from the case after determining she could be called as a witness at trial.
Article By KGET, https://www.kget.com/news/crime-watch/defendants-acquitted-of-all-charges-in-bakersfield-kidnapping-and-torture-case/