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Testimony begins in trial of Elbow Lake man charged with kidnapping, rape

WILLMAR -- A group of 13 Kandiyohi County jurors -- one of them an alternate -- listened to their first day of testimony Tuesday in the trial of a 20-year-old Elbow Lake man accused of kidnapping and raping his ex-girlfriend.

The Stevens County case was moved to Kandiyohi County after the granting of a defense motion that argued a change of venue was necessary because pre-trial media coverage may have tainted the jury pool.

Ernest Ray Longoria faces three kidnapping charges, first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and a charge of violating a no-contact order.

Longoria al-legedly tied up his ex-girlfriend May 7 in her Donnelly home, and raped and kidnapped her.

He drove her to Elbow Lake and allegedly told her he was taking her to Texas. Longoria and the woman were stopped May 8 by a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper along Interstate 29 in Brookings County, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities were notified about Longoria after the woman he allegedly kidnapped told someone at a rest area to call the police, the complaint states.

Stevens County Attorney Charles Glasrud is prosecuting the case.

He called several witnesses Tuesday, including a South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation agent, the 19-year-old woman who is the alleged victim and the woman's mother.

The West Central Tribune does not typically identify victims of alleged sexual abuse.

The young woman stared straight at Glasrud throughout her testimony Tuesday. As she recalled the alleged events of the rape and kidnap, she was visibly shaken and wiped tears from her eyes on several occasions.

She testified that Longoria had allegedly abused her before they had ended their three-year relationship last February.

She also recounted how she had taken out an $80,000 life insurance policy for her child because she feared Longoria was going to kill her.

As her testimony continued, the woman glanced only briefly at Longoria. She recalled how she told a woman at a rest area in South Dakota that she had been kidnapped and needed her to call the police.

"She gave me a hug and told me everything would be all right," she testified.

Jurors also heard from the woman's mother.

The mother recounted several frantic phone calls she had with her daughter while the alleged kidnapping was taking place, and how she contacted local authorities throughout the duration of the incident.

South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation agent Brian Zeeb testified through recorded deposition Tuesday. The testimony was recorded at an earlier date because Zeeb was not available during the trial.

According to Zeeb's testimony, Longoria said he had gone to his ex-girlfriend's home in Donnelly to see her and their then 19-month-old son.

There were two no-contact orders against Longoria at the time.

Zeeb's testimony about his interviews with Longoria painted a remorseful picture. Zeeb indicated that Longoria was regretful during questioning about the alleged sexual encounter with the woman and alleged attempt to take her to Texas.

"He felt that he had done something wrong," Zeeb said.

Zeeb said Longoria admitted that he had tied up the woman throughout the duration of the sexual encounter and the trip to Longoria's parents' home in Elbow Lake.

Longoria allegedly drove the woman and their child to Elbow Lake after the sexual encounter. He and the woman left Elbow Lake after spending the night.

Longoria's attorney, Kenneth Kludt, did not question either Zeeb or the young woman.

Kludt questioned the woman's mother about her involvement in the couple's original breakup. He also asked about an engagement between the young woman and Longoria.

"I don't know who you talked to," the mother quickly responded. She then conceded that her daughter and Longoria had been briefly engaged, but that she had not known about it until after the engagement had been called off.

The trial for Longoria is scheduled to resume again today at 9 a.m.