SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A transient who beat and raped a woman he had just met near Old Town, then stole her belongings, was convicted Tuesday of forcible rape, robbery and false imprisonment.
Jurors, however, acquitted 22-year-old Michael Tesfa of kidnapping for rape.
Tesfa faces a maximum of 13 years and eight months in state prison when he is sentenced March 7.
In her closing argument Monday, Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth McClutchey told the jury that Tesfa dragged the victim from a streetside bench on Pacific Highway to a dirty, urine-soaked alcove behind Perry's Cafe where homeless people hang out.
"It was scary. It was dangerous," the prosecutor said.
McClutchey said Tesfa beat and sexually assaulted the victim, then stole her clothes and personal items.
Police arrested him in a nearby riverbed a short time later.
"When police rolled up on him, he took off like a rabbit," the prosecutor said.
Tesfa, who represented himself, told the jury that the woman wanted to meet somebody and was lying about being raped to "make me look bad."
The defendant said there were no witnesses to the incident, which happened last March 18.
The 30-year-old victim testified at a previous hearing that she was sitting on a bench in front of the cafe -- which was closed -- drinking wine that she had purchased at a local store when Tesfa came up and asked what she was drinking.
The woman said Tesfa was pleasant at first and she shared some wine and let him give her a brief kiss. She said she flirted with the defendant a little, but he became annoying and as she started to leave, he grabbed her arm and took her to the dark alcove behind the cafe, where she was shoved to the ground, beaten and raped.
According to court testimony, Tesfa's DNA was found in samples taken from the victim.
Tesfa -- who said he was homeless -- testified that he was under the influence of alcohol when he and the victim had consensual sex.
"She came on to me," he said. "I guess you gotta get what you can get."
He said the woman didn't seemed satisfied following the encounter and started screaming, so he scooped up her property and took off running.
McClutchey told the jury that Tesfa's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.0 percent five hours after the assault.
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