People v Whittier Buchanan

On November 6, 2017, a jury convicted defendant Whittier Buchanan of felony kidnapping with intent to commit a sex crime, assault with intent to commit a sex crime, and failure to register as a sex offender.

On May 2, 2017, Jane Doe celebrated a friend's birthday at a bar in Berkeley. At approximately 2:30 am she took a short Uber ride to her home, but realized she couldn't find her keys and was locked out of her apartment. She sat out front of her residence and attempted to call her father for help. Defendant Buchanan pulled up in his red Chevy Astro mini van and offered to assist her. The victim, intoxicated and mistakenly believing the defendant was the Uber vehicle, she agreed to get in and defendant drove off just before 3 am.

While in the front seat of the vehicle, Jane Doe spoke with her father on the phone and he informed her that he would meet her at Safeway. Jane Doe asked defendant to drop her off at Safeway and he agreed.

After some time in the vehicle, Jane Doe began to notice that her surroundings were now becoming more residential and woodland-like, as Defendant Buchanan drove her into the North Berkeley hills. Suspicious, she asked to be dropped off. Defendant Buchanan refused, saying that wouldn't be safe. Jane Doe insisted that he could drop her off anywhere because her Dad would be able to find her, but Defendant Buchanan responded that she would not be going anywhere. Afraid and shocked, she closed her eyes and screamed. Defendant grabbed her face with his hand, covering her mouth to muffle her scream. They struggled and Jane Doe escaped to the backseat of the vehicle.

Once in the backseat, Jane Doe began pleading with Defendant Buchanan to let her out, that she was sorry, and would do anything if he let her out. She offered him all of her money in her wallet, which Defendant Buchanan took, but he refused to let her out. Fearful that he was going to rape and murder her, she began trying to find a way out of the vehicle. She was unable to open the door and was attempting to open the window when Defendant Buchanan angrily asked her what she was doing. She told him that she was trying to open the window. Defendant Buchanan slowed the van down, leaned over and grabbed Jane Doe across her torso, head, and legs in an attempt to keep her from escaping. She managed to escape out of the window and began frantically screaming for help. Neighbors in the 1000 block of Monterey Ave heard her screams and came to her aid as Defendant Buchanan drove off.

Berkeley Police Department officers responded to the scene. Upon learning that Jane Doe's cell phone was left in the van, they tracked the phone's location and found it in possession of Defendant Buchanan. He was on parole after being convicted of three counts of forcible rape, two counts of forced oral copulation, and one count of sexual battery in 1996. Based on those convictions, Defendant Buchanan was also required to register as a sex offender where he lived in Berkeley.

Defendant Whittier Buchanan is scheduled to be sentenced on December 8, 2017.

The case was prosecuted by DDA Alex Hernandez with assistance from DA Inspectors Blair Alexander and James Morris, and Victim-Witness Advocate Louise Song. Specialized assistance was provided by Vicki Long, DA Audio Video Specialist.

Posted on Nov 9, 2017