Crime & Justice

Kidnapper threatened Northridge girl with a knife and leather belt around her neck

An LAPD officer keeps media and the public away from the Northridge home where the 10-year old girl was kidnapped on March 27, 2013.
An LAPD officer keeps media and the public away from the Northridge home where the 10-year old girl was kidnapped on March 27, 2013.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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The trial of a man accused of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from her Northridge home and sexually assaulting her will move forward after attempts to reach a plea deal were unsuccessful. Both sides were trying to avoid trial to keep the victim from having to relive the crime.

The girl was kidnapped from her bedroom around 1 a.m. on March 27. She was found 12 hours later at a shopping center not far from her house where she'd been abducted. About a month later, authorities arrested two suspects; one of them was captured in Mexico.

Tobias Summers, 32, was charged with kidnapping, burglary and about three dozen counts of sexual assault, including child pornography. A second suspect, Daniel Martinez, 29, was charged with burglary and kidnapping for allegedly waiting in a car outside the house when Summers allegedly came out with the girl.

Prosecutors called up LAPD detective Carla Zuniga as their first witness. She testified about interviews with the 10-year-old girl about what happened to her the night she was kidnapped.

“She said she was asleep in her bedroom when a man came up to her, pointed a knife at her throat and told her to come with him,” Zuniga said in court.

Zuniga said the girl was told to hide behind trash cans in the alley until a black car rolled up. Martinez is accused of being the driver. When the two of them got into the vehicle, Zuniga said the girl heard the driver and her kidnapper talking to each other.

“She said when she got into the backseat the driver, who she referred to as the partner, said, ‘What’s up with the girl,’” Zuniga said in court.

The detective testified that the girl heard her kidnapper tell the driver that the girl was awake and the he was “going to drop her off at a fire station.”

There were specific details given in testimony about the sexual assaults the girl suffered. The detective said the girl had a brown leather belt tied around her neck several times during the night and was told it would get tighter if she made any noises.

The girl was taken to a storage facility, a park and an empty house in the Valley before being dropped off at a parking garage not far from her home.

For weeks, defense attorneys and prosecutors with the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office seemed to be negotiating a plea deal. Dates for a preliminary hearing continued to get postponed. But Wednesday, an attorney for Summers said no deal was reached.

Defense attorney Jeff Yanuck said his client was willing to do 50 years in prison for all 38 charges, but no deal was reached Wednesday.

“It would have put an end to the case. It would have put an end to all the trauma that is probably going on throughout the victim’s family,” Yanuck said. “And this would have been the easiest way to resolve it.”

The deputy district attorney on the case declined to comment at the court.

If Summers is convicted, he faces multiple life terms in prison. Martinez could face up to 12 years in prison.