Some folks remain uncomfortable with the prevalence of HALO cameras on Denver streets, typically because they don't like the idea that Big Brother is watching them.
But law enforcers counter that the cameras help them catch criminals who might otherwise go unpunished.
A case in point: Former taxi driver Hidet Molla has now been found guilty of kidnapping, sexual assault and more against an incapacitated passenger who tells investigator she woke up to find him in bed with her and asking, "Are you a virgin?"
A number of factors outlined in the original arrest affidavit, on view below in its entirety, made nabbing Molla difficult. However, the cops were able to zero in on him using HALO video.
On December 27, 2014, the report notes, authorities in Vail were advised about what's referred to as a "possible cold sex assault" involving a 22-year-old woman then at Vail Valley Medical Center.
The woman told investigators the assault had actually taken place days earlier in Denver.
At about 11 p.m. on December 23, the woman said, she and some friends had visited the Ginn Mill, at 2041 Larimer, and during her time there, she consumed eight or nine alcoholic beverages over a ninety-minute period.
Around 12:30 a.m. on December 24, the group was about to leave when an argument broke out and the woman separated from her friends.
She couldn't remember what the spat was about or much else that happened immediately thereafter. The next thing she knew, she was in a bedroom with a man she didn't recognize. According to her, she recalled him asking, "Baby, do you like that?" and "Are you a virgin?"
The specific act the man was committing is blotted out in the affidavit. But the woman suddenly realized her black leggings were pulled down around her ankles, leaving her clad only in a tan-colored bra. The sweater she had worn that evening was in a corner of the room with what appeared to be vomit and blood on it.
At that point, the woman demanded that the man take her to her residence in Centennial, and he complied. However, she didn't know the specific address where they'd been, beyond recognizing it as being in the Green Valley Ranch area. And while her iPhone was missing, along with her driver's license and a credit card that she kept in the case, the device hadn't been turned on, making her Find iPhone app useless.
The woman had already washed the clothing she'd worn that night, including a sweater that presumably belonged to her attacker, thereby making DNA evidence more difficult to obtain — although a SANE examination was conducted anyhow. But she had a recollection of some of the routes they took, including westbound Interstate 70 and the Interstate 225 flyover, and text messages sent the night in question allowed investigators to pin down a time frame.
From there, the cops began checking HALO cameras, beginning with one at 20th and Larimer, near the Ginn Mill — and they spotted a taxi that had what's described as a "unique, rectangular, brightly illuminated advertisement sign" circling in the area.
Other HALO cams allowed police to follow the progress of the cab from the Ginn Mill to a specific address in Green Valley Ranch that was owned by Molla.
From there, investigators obtained a photo of Molla and included it in a lineup of images shown to the victim — and she quickly identified it. In addition, she positively identified Google Maps images of his home as the place to which she'd been taken.
Armed with this evidence, Molla was formally charged in the case circa March 2015 — and now, he's been convicted of two counts apiece of second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault, as well as one robbery count pertaining to the iPhone.
Molla's sentencing is scheduled for June 30, when he'll face what prosecutors with the Denver District Attorney's Office term "an indeterminate-to-life sentence."
Here's a larger look at his booking photo, followed by a Fox31 report from the time of his arrest, and the aforementioned arrest affidavit.