Man found guilty of rape of pre-teen girl

Tes­ti­mony, foren­sic ev­i­dence lead to con­vic­tion

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

A jury found a La Pla- ta man guilty of rap­ing an 11-year-old girl on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon in Charles County Cir­cuit Court.

Jaime An­to­nio Rivera, 27, was con­victed of first-de­gree rape and other charges for co­erc- ing the girl to have sex with him by threat­en­ing her with a knife last June, court pro­ceed­ings showed.

In Rivera’s charg­ing doc­u­ments, a de­tec­tive noted that Rivera told po­lice he was not a U.S. cit- izen.

With Judge Erik Nyce pre­sid­ing, as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­neys Sarah Free­man and Jared Al­bert were able to meet their bur­den of proof af­ter three days of pre­sent­ing wit­ness tes­ti­mony and ev­i­dence that proved to be damn­ing.

The jury heard tes­ti­mony from the vic­tim who first re­ported the in­ci­dent to po­lice on June 10, 2016, af­ter talk­ing to a so­cial worker at school a few days af­ter Rivera raped her. Charles County Sher- iff’s Of­fice Det. Kris­ten Gross told the court that the girl made dis­clo­sures to her at the hos­pi­tal be­fore a sex­ual as­sault nurse ex­am­i­na­tion was con­ducted.

A search war­rant was ob­tained and de­tec­tives re­cov­ered the cloth­ing the vic­tim had worn the night of the rape, as well as a DNA sam­ple from the sus­pect, pro­ceed­ings re­vealed. Maryland State Po­lice foren­sic sci­en­tist Molly Rollo tes­ti­fied that Rivera’s DNA sam­ple matched the DNA found from un­der­wear the vic- tim said she had been wear­ing.

Jurors also heard tes- ti­m­ony from the vic­tim who re­counted the night of the in­ci­dent, June 4, 2016. She said she had been sleep­ing when she was wo­ken up around 2 a.m. by Rivera, who de­manded to have sex with her.

“He told me that if I didn’t, he was go­ing to get his knife,” the vic­tim tes- ti­fied. When she said no, he left the room and came back with a knife, and she then com­plied. “I just laid there” and didn’t say any- thing, she tes­ti­fied. “… I was scared, and I was cry­ing.”

The girl’s sis­ter, now 10, tes­ti­fied that she had been lay­ing awake on the top bunk of the bed, and heard Rivera come in the room drunk. She said that Rivera told her to move up to the top bunk, and lis- tened to her sis­ter tell him to stop and heard him de­mand some­thing or else he’d get a knife. The girl’s sis­ter said she lis­tened to her cry for about 30 to 50 min­utes as the bed shook.

“You don’t just have their word,” Free­man told the jury dur­ing her clos­ing ar­gu­ments, “you have DNA and sci­en­tific ev­i­dence.”

Deputy pub­lic de­fender Edie Cimino ar­gued that the al­le­ga­tions were fab­ri­cated, “a lie that has got­ten out of hand,” and said Rivera’s DNA could have been in­ci­den­tally trans­ferred onto the un­der­wear found in a shared dirty clothes ham­per by po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors while han­dling ev­i­dence.

The de­fense called no wit­nesses and Rivera, who had the pro­ceed­ings trans­lated into Span­ish, elected not to tes­tify.

The jury re­turned its ver­dict Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, find­ing him guilty of the act.

A few months af­ter his ar­rest in June, Rivera’s DNA sam­ple col­lected dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port­edly con­nected him to an un­re­lated cold case, and al­legedly iden­ti­fied him as one of four men who gang raped a woman in 2010. He is sched­uled to stand trial again on April 24.

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