A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that charges can proceed against a man dubbed the “Rideshare Rapist” even if the police improperly collected the defendant's DNA without a warrant at a traffic stop.
The judge ruled there was enough probable cause to support warrants he signed authorizing police to search Orlando Vilchez Lazo's home and property, regardless of the DNA evidence police obtained during an alleged bogus drunken driving stop.
The judge did not rule whether the collection of Vilchez Lazo's DNA without a warrant was deemed an illegal search. Instead, he found police were already in the middle of an investigation that included recording Vilchez Lazo's vehicle circling nightclub and obtaining his driver's license and DMV records prior to making him blow into a breathalyzer.
Police arrested Vilchez Lazo in July 2018 after matching his DNA collected at the traffic stop to the profile of an unknown suspect in at least four rapes in San Francisco. Investigators served multiple search warrants that the judge signed on Vilchez Lazo's home and property after the traffic stop.
The suspect would allegedly pose as a driver for a ride-sharing service and pick up intoxicated women outside of nightclubs in San Francisco neighborhoods, then rape them at knifepoint. He worked for Lyft at the time but was not using the app when he allegedly committed the crimes, officials say. Lyft has since terminated Vilchez Lazo and has supposedly heightened its background check process after it was revealed he was in the country illegally from Peru.
Vilchez Lazo was being held without bail in county jail on three charges of kidnapping (CA Penal Code 207), four counts of rape ( CA Penal Code 261 ), two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object (CA Penal code 289 )and three counts of kidnapping to commit another crime ( CA Penal Code 209). He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Vilchez Lazo's attorney filed a motion asking the judge to suppress the DNA evidence and to void the warrants, which resulted in this ruling. His attorney argued that the police pulled Vilchez Lazo over in July 2018 and made him blow into an alcohol screening device just to collect his DNA.
DNA evidence is extremely complex and requires the assistance of a highly informed and skilled attorney and forensic expert. If you have a case that involves charges such as these or involves DNA, contact The Law Offices of Seth P. Chazin to get the help you need and deserve.
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