76-Year-Old Woman Faces Down Her Accused Attackers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

76-Year-Old Woman Faces Down Her Accused Attackers

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A 76-year-old woman testified Monday that she prayed God would let her die toward the end of a 26-hour ordeal in which she was kidnapped, beaten and bound without food or water in the trunk of her station wagon.

"I asked God if he would let me die or save me," Natalie Herbst-Vinge said when called to the stand during a preliminary hearing for three young people accused of kidnapping her from her La Mesa home last Dec. 8.

The victim's ordeal would end within a few hours of her prayer, she testified.

A San Diego County sheriff's deputy and an El Cajon police officer testified they found the woman bound and beaten in the trunk of her car.

Jeffrey Edward Nelson, 19, Luis Lomeli Osborne, 18, and Antoinette Baker, 19, are charged with torture, robbery, kidnapping, elder abuse and false imprisonment.

Nelson is also charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and carjacking.

El Cajon Judge Lantz Lewis will decide at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing -- which is expected Tuesday -- whether enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial.

Osborne wiped away tears as Herbst-Vinge testified about the kidnapping, and Baker looked away when prosecutor Paul Greenwood showed the court a photograph of the victim soon after she was found.

In the photo, there was hardly any part of the victim's face that wasn't bloody, bruised or swollen. Both of her eyes were swollen shut and her entire chin was severely bruised.

An emergency recess was called in the middle of Herbst-Vinge's testimony because Baker, who had been crying, indicated to her attorney and a deputy that she might vomit.

Family members of the defendants are expected to testify on Tuesday, Greenwood said, including Osborne's brother, who said Nelson gave him the victim's driver's license and credit cards to hold the day of the abduction.

Nelson's superiors at the Kirby vacuum store testified today that Nelson sold a $2,300 vacuum to Herbst-Vinge after demonstrating it to her in her home last Oct. 23.

One of Nelson's bosses, Cyrus Smith, also testified that Nelson was fired two days after that for smoking a marijuana pipe inside a work van.

Smith testified that he fired Nelson, who then allegedly choked him and punched him in the face numerous times.

Herbst-Vinge testified that Nelson returned to her home on the morning of Dec. 8, saying he wanted to make sure her vacuum was working well.

But a male friend of the victim dropped by for coffee and Nelson left, according to court testimony. The suspect returned again around 10 that night, Herbst-Vinge testified.

She said Nelson knocked on her door and said he was upset because he just broke up with his girlfriend and asked if she would let him use her phone to call his mother.

Herbst-Vinge said she let Nelson use the phone near her kitchen and turned her back. That's when Nelson attacked her from behind, she testified.

"That's when he choked me," she said. "I couldn't breathe. I couldn't do anything."

Nelson allegedly choked the victim until she was unconscious. When she awoke, she found herself bound and gagged with duct tape, she testified.

The woman said Nelson asked for the keys to her 2006 Dodge Magnum, which had 20-inch rims. She said she had shown the suspect her car during the Oct. 23 visit because "young people like the rims."

During the arraignment of the three defendants, Greenwood alleged that at some point, Osborne and Baker joined Nelson and they drove to Ocean Beach with the victim in the trunk of her car, using her credit card to buy gas.

At another point during the drive, Herbst-Vinge said the trunk was opened and that Nelson punched the right side of her face.

The trunk was opened again, the victim said, and she was punched once more on the right side of her face and then by a second man on the left side.

Throughout the ordeal, the victim said she begged for water but was denied.

Herbst-Vinge was found in the trunk after her alleged abductors were pulled over for a traffic violation at midnight Dec. 10 in El Cajon.

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