Reporter's Notebook: Terrifying courtroom testimony doesn't faze Nickey Stane

The following story explains the survival story of a sexual assault victim. Reader/Viewer discretion is advised.

Gabe Ferris Image
Thursday, November 30, 2023
A Valley woman detailed her 1999 sexual assault Wednesday as she took the stand against Debbie Dorian's accused killer, Nickey Stane.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For 24 years, a Valley woman has re-lived a 1999 sexual assault in nightmares, she said on Wednesday.

Jane Doe 1, as she's called in court, took the stand to testify against Nickey Stane. The 56-year-old man faces 11 felonies stemming from the murder of Debbie Dorian in 1996 and a series of eight sexual assaults in Visalia that followed a few years later.

RELATED: WATCH: Evil in the Archives - The Murder of Debbie Dorian

Prosecutors say he's responsible for all the incidents, but Stane has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

You're not going to get away with this.
Jane Doe 1

This week, he's been in court for a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors must show they have enough evidence against him.

Wednesday was only the second material day of the preliminary hearing, but prosecutors have already presented several pieces of graphic and disturbing evidence against him.

It was striking how Stane sat on Wednesday. He seemed to look straight ahead, seemingly avoiding direct eye contact with one of his accusers.

But Stane's lack of emotion couldn't have been any different than the emotion Doe 1 displayed.

The woman, now in her 40s, took the courtroom back to a July night in 1999.

She was just 19, new to Visalia, and scooped ice cream at a local creamery. She planned to attend the College of the Sequoias.

On her way home from work one late Thursday night, she told the judge how a man stopped her on her bike.

Three blocks away from her apartment complex, she said, "a gentleman came out of nowhere."

"He was fidgeting for something," Doe 1 said. "He pulled up a bandana around his nose. He already had a hood around his head. He pulled out a gun," she added.

"Am I dead?" she said she thought to herself.

The man grabbed her handlebars and directed her to a side street, where he continued to threaten her with a gun.

"He told me to get off my bike and get on my knees," Doe 1 said.

She took a breath on the stand, appearing to bend down to pet a therapy dog prosecutors brought into the courtroom for her.

Wiping her face with a tissue, she re-lived the worst moments of her life.

It seemed like forever.
Jane Doe 1

He told her "to kneel down, shut up, (and) he stuck his hand down my shirt," Doe 1 said.

The man assaulting Doe 1 touched her chest with one hand as his other hand was in his pants. It was the first time, she said, a man ever sexually touched her.

"It seemed like forever," the woman testified. "I told him if he stuck anything in my mouth, I would bite it," she said moments later.

"You're not going to get away with this," Doe 1 said she remembers telling the man.

Feet away from the emotional victim, Stane sat quietly. At times, a member of his defense team appeared to breathe heavily and rubbed his face as if Doe 1's testimony was even worse than Stane's team could have imagined.

Back on the stand, Doe 1 described how she quickly biked back home.

"I ran up to my apartment, locked the door behind me, and called my sister."

Her sister, who was in the courtroom gallery on Wednesday, called the police, who responded to Doe 1's residence.

Dushawn Johnson, who was then a newly minted Visalia police officer, went back to the scene with Doe 1.

Johnson also testified on Wednesday. He said he collected bodily fluid from the sidewalk, evidence of the assault that happened there hours earlier.

It was that sample and DNA evidence that allowed investigators to tie the assault to a Fresno murder that happened three years earlier, in August 1996.

That's when Peter Dorian found his 22-year-old daughter, Debbie Dorian, dead, bound, and gagged in her Northeast Fresno apartment.

On Tuesday, Peter testified about finding his daughter.

She was lying face up. Her mouth and nose had been taped shut.
Peter Dorian, Debbie Dorian’s Father

"She was lying face up. Her mouth and nose had been taped shut," Peter said.

RELATED: Debbie Dorian's father testifies, describes finding her body 27 years ago

Investigators say DNA connected the sexual assault and murder, but they didn't know who that DNA belonged to until decades later.

In the fall of 2019, police arrested Nickey Stane for a series of eight sexual assaults that happened in Visalia between 1999 and 2002. They later charged him with murdering Debbie.

He's pleaded not guilty to a total of 11 felonies that range from murder to rape, kidnapping, and sodomy.

Now, prosecutors must prove they have enough evidence to proceed with their case against him. And if Stane and the Fresno County District Attorney's office cannot reach a plea deal, the matter will eventually go to trial.

Prosecutors have not yet decided if they'll pursue the death penalty.

Stane is due back in court on Thursday afternoon.

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