Video allegedly showing former Navy commander assault to be used as evidence
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Purportedly incriminating cell phone video footage of an encounter between a flight instructor and a former U.S. Navy commander accused of sexually assaulting her will be allowed into evidence, a San Diego judge ruled Tuesday.
At a January hearing for John Michael Neuhart II, Superior Court Judge Kenneth So granted a defense motion to bar the 41-minute video, ruling that San Diego police illegally compelled Neuhart to give them his password to unlock the phone.
In reconsidering his initial decision, So cited a "good faith exception" rule, in which evidence can be admissible if police officers believed they were acting under proper legal authority. He also indicated that it was likely the defense would continue to litigate the issue before the case goes to trial in August.
Neuhart, 39, faces life in prison if convicted of assault with intent to commit rape during a burglary and other counts.
The 30-year-old alleged victim testified during a preliminary hearing that she worked as a helicopter squadron flight instructor under Neuhart in Guam before being transferred to Coronado last Sept. 1.
The night of Sept. 11, the woman said she went to a concert with some friends and then used the ride-hailing service Uber to meet up with another friend at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego.
The alleged victim said her friend told her that Neuhart was in town with members of the squadron, and they went up to his room for drinks with others. The group later moved to the hotel bar, and she and Neuhart were there together, according to her testimony.
The woman testified that she has no memory of leaving the bar and next remembers pushing Neuhart out of her front door at 3 a.m. on Sept. 12.
"He had pulled my pants off,” she testified. "I told him to get the (expletive) out of my house."
Once Neuhart was outside, the woman said she locked the front door, but then heard her side gate opening. Neuhart pounded on her back door and said, "I want you! I’ve always wanted you!,” she said.
She said Neuhart told her to get a condom and put her pit bull dog away, then pulled the doors open and pushed her against her kitchen counter and the
She said he forced her to the couch and told her to take his pants off, which she refused to do.
She said a neighbor yelled to her from outside, asking her if she was OK, and she said no and ran out the front door.
The neighbor called 911, and police tracked Neuhart down after he ran from the house, according to testimony.
Neuhart, a married Iraq War veteran, was in San Diego for training at the time of the alleged crime, according to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Tag. He was relieved as commander of the helicopter squadron after his arrest.