Trial begins in Tahoe rape cases |

Trial begins in Tahoe rape cases

Edwin Robert Carlevato is expected to testify before a jury that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.

“As hard as it will be, he will explain his behavior and what he did and why,” said Donald Heape, a court-appointed defense lawyer.

Carlevato, 47, is charged with 11 felony counts stemming from the attempted kidnap of a 21-year-old woman from South Shore in September 1998 and the kidnap and rape in 1999 of two other women, a 51-year-old and 34-year-old. The prosecutor said all of the attacks were at gunpoint.

Carlevato could face several life terms in prison if convicted on all of the counts.

Deputy District Attorney Peter O’Hara argued in his opening statement Monday in El Dorado County Superior Court that Carlevato is a creature of habit who at least three times prowled the streets east of Pioneer Trail and Park Avenue looking for women to abduct and rape.

O’Hara showed the jury evidence found in Carlevato’s car and home that included betting receipts, a gun, ski mask, fillet knife and narrow rope. As he displayed the items O’Hara said to the jury: “Here’s our persuader. Here’s what gets him (Carlevato) dates on Saturday night in South Lake Tahoe.”

O’Hara said Carlevato succeeded in kidnapping and raping (intercourse with one, oral copulation with the other) two women, and then left them partially dressed near Picketts Junction in Hope Valley.

O’Hara also said DNA evidence taken from two of the women is a match with DNA taken from a blood sample taken from Carlevato.

Donald Heape, Carlevato’s court-appointed defense attorney, argued his client had no contact with the 21-year-old woman and had consensual sex with the two other women he is accused of assaulting.

Heape said the 34-year-old woman Carlevato is being accused of assaulting is a woman with whom his client had a sex-for-money relationship in the past. Heape also stated that the 51-year-old woman accepted a ride from Carlevato and only became upset and said she was raped after he told her he was married and did not want to see her again.

The trial resumed in the afternoon with testimony from law enforcement officers and a 21-year-old woman who Carlevato is accused of trying to kidnap in 1998.

Monday in court the woman identified Carlevato as her attacker. She also testified that her young daughter gave her the strength to bolt from the man who tried to kidnap her at gunpoint on Shepherds Drive. The woman found safety at a stranger’s house in the neighborhood.

Carlevato was arrested Nov. 4, 1999, while working as dealer at Jackson Rancheria Casino. Law enforcement agents made the arrest after he was identified as a rape suspect on a convenience store’s surveillance video taken in July of 1999.

Carlevato was a resident of Pioneer, Calif., and has a wife of 25 years and two children.

His trial, which continues today, is expected to last four to six weeks. A two-week holiday break is scheduled to begin the day after Christmas.

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