Ex-pas­tor gets 149 years in rape, mur­der at­tempt

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - At Water Signal - BY THAD­DEUS MILLER [email protected]­ced­sun-star.com

Nearly five months af­ter be­ing found guilty of rape and at­tempted mur­der, a Merced ex-pas­tor was sen­tenced on Tues­day to 149 years to life in prison.

Raul Diaz Moreno, who once led the Vic­tory Out­reach church in Merced, was sen­tenced to mul­ti­ple life sen­tences for con­vic­tions on three at­tempted mur­ders and three sex crimes, among other counts, by Merced County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Ronald W. Hansen.

The 54-year-old did not speak dur­ing the hear­ing, where he ap­peared in yel­low prison-is­sued clothes. Diaz Moreno was found guilty in July but filed a mo­tion for more time, say­ing he planned to ask for a new trial.

His de­fense at­tor­ney, Dou­glas Foster, said in open court that it would be “an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity” to ask the court to over­turn its own process by ask­ing for a new trial. Diaz Moreno’s pre­vi­ous at­tor­ney al­leged dis­crep­an­cies in how the jury filled out ver­dict pa­per­work, as well as changes the at­tor­ney said were made to a ver­dict sheet by the judge.

Foster said he did not find any in­struc­tional er­ror by the court, and de­clined to seek a new trial.

Diaz Moreno on Oct. 28, 2016, shot one of his adopted daugh­ters in the head and the other in the leg out­side his home on Beck­man Way in Merced, ac­cord­ing to Merced Po­lice Depart­ment.

He shot an­other man who was help­ing the young women. Plus, he fired at of­fi­cers af­ter they re­sponded to the home, po­lice re­ported.

The sen­tence means Diaz Moreno will likely die be­hind bars, ac­cord­ing to Scott Drexel, the deputy district at­tor­ney who pros­e­cuted the case.

“The judge saw the sen­tenc­ing fac­tors cor­rectly. This was a heinous crime,” Drexel said. “The vic­tims were vul­ner­a­ble, and the de­fen­dant showed no re­morse. It was ap­pro­pri­ate. He got ex­actly what he de­served.”

The shoot­ing in 2016 prompted a three-hour stand­off with Merced po­lice in which Diaz Moreno ini­tially in­tended to end his own life, prose­cu­tors said dur­ing the trial. Po­lice said Diaz Moreno fired three shots at of­fi­cers dur­ing the stand­off, but they even­tu­ally con­vinced him to sur­ren­der.

Dur­ing the month-long trial, prose­cu­tors de­scribed a life of abuse that vic­tim­ized the young sis­ters from as early as kinder­garten. They were taken in by Diaz Moreno af­ter they es­sen­tially were aban­doned by their mother, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

Fam­ily mem­bers of Diaz Moreno’s de­clined to speak with re­porters out­side the court­room, but said they stand by him. They said they be­lieve the rape al­le­ga­tions to be false.

The jury found Diaz Moreno guilty of all 14 charges, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple counts of at­tempted mur­der, as­sault, shoot­ing at po­lice, ag­gra­vated sex­ual as­sault, sodomy by force, lewd acts and oral cop­u­la­tion with mi­nors.

One of the sis­ters, Brianna Moreno, said out­side the court­room she was re­lieved to hear her abuser got such a long sen­tence. She urged vic­tims of sex­ual abuse to seek help.

“If you’re go­ing through this, don’t be scared to go and speak out. That could help some­one else who’s go­ing through it,” she said. “The longer you wait, it’s harder for you to process and heal.”

THAD­DEUS MILLER [email protected]­ced­sun­star.com

Raul Diaz Moreno, a 54-year-old ex-pas­tor in Merced, was sen­tenced to 149 years to life on Tues­day, Nov. 27, 2018, in Merced County Su­pe­rior Court by Judge Ronald W. Hansen.

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