NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - During the second day of testimony in the Nacogdoches County jury trial of a man accused of kidnapping, tying up and sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in 2015, a counselor testified that the child experienced nightmares because of the trauma she suffered.
Juan Perez Moreno, a 45-year-old illegal immigrant who was working in the Nacogdoches area, is still being held in the Nacogdoches County Jail on four first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault of a child charges, a first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping with bodily injury-sexual abuse charge, a first-degree continuous sexual assault of a child charge, and a Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.
Collectively, Moreno's bail amount has been set at $1,502,500.
The jury trial is being held in Judge Campbell Cox's 145th Judicial District courtroom. During the first day of testimony Monday, Moreno pleaded not guilty to four charges.
During Tuesday's testimony, the state called the school counselor who has been teaching coping skills to the victim, who is now 9. The counselor said the girl often spoke of the Moreno, the referring to when he did "nasty things" to her.
The counselor also said that because of the trauma she suffered, the victim experienced nightmares when she was at her mother or father's house.
The second witness of the day was the girl's current teacher. The teacher said the girl has said things about what happened to her, but it wasn't at length. The teacher said the girl told her that she was tied up and the man did "nasty things" to her.
Later in her testimony, the victim's teacher said that it is hard for the girl to put a timeline of what happened and when together.
Next, the state called Charlie Weaver to the stand. Weaver, who collects evidence at the scene of crimes for the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office, said she took oral swans from both the victim and the defendant. She also testified that when the search was executed on Moreno's home, blankets, a cell phone, identification cards, a red shirt, and two pairs of Moreno's underwear were collected.
The state rested its case after Weaver testified.
At that point, the defense made two motions. One stated there was insufficient evidence, and the other called for a mistrial. The defense argued that on Monday, a witness presented a report the defense was unaware of, and they lacked the time to do their own research.Both motions were denied by the judge.
Bill Murphy, the sexual assault investigator with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office, took the stand first for the defense. After explaining his role and the steps he takes to execute a search warrant, he said they collected a roll of black tape, a red shirt, two blankets, a towel, and two pairs of gray underwear were all collected as evidence.
During the investigation at Moreno's home, law enforcement officers searched outside in burn piles, trash cans, and trash bags for the tape that was used on the victim during the sexual assault, Murphy said. He added that they were only able to locate a roll of black tape inside the trailer house.
After the lunch break, the defense called the alleged victim and her teacher at the time of the incident back to the stand. The defense brought up a school-aged boy that the girl mentioned when she made the outcry to her teacher, and the victim told the jury she made up the boy's name and talked about it for a short time before she switched to talking about Moreno.
When the teacher took the stand again, she said the girl's rationale for lying and giving her the made-up boy's name was that she was afraid she might be killed.
Following brief testimony by a friend and former co-worker of Moreno's, the defense called four of the victim's family members to the stand. Two of the witnesses spoke of how their children played outside with the victim. They also told the jury that the girl never complained about any pain in her private parts.
At that point, the defense rested.
The father of the victim took the stand last when he was called by the state. His testimony lasted about 40 minutes. He recalled on the day events unfolded he said "you just freeze when you hear CPS" referring to when the organization called him.
He said, the night before, when he and his daughter were getting ready to go to bed, he observed she was acting very sad. She then took out a dollar that Moreno had given her. Immediately, the dad said don't take the money, wanting to teach his child not to take money from anyone. He further said his daughter complained of her stomach hurting but didn't think much of it.
According to the arrest affidavit, an NCSO investigator was dispatched out to Harold's House to sit in on a forensic interview with the victim. During the interview, the little girl allegedly said that Moreno picked her up from her yard while she was playing and took her to his residence.
Once inside the home, Moreno took off the girl's clothes, taped her hands behind her back, put tape over her mouth, and then sexually assaulted her, injuring her in the process, the affidavit stated.
When NCSO deputies went to Moreno's house in the 110 block of County Road 521 to execute an arrest warrant on May 21, 2015, he tried to run from the deputies by going back into the residence, the affidavit stated. He also allegedly tried to pull away from them.
According to the affidavit, the deputies had to use force to restrain Moreno and take him into custody. Moreno was then taken to the jail without any further incident.
A press release from the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office stated that evidence was found at Moreno's residence that was linked to the sexual assault of the girl.
The next morning, NCSO investigators interviewed Moreno, and he confessed to the crime as well as another sexual assault that occurred two months ago in Nacogdoches County, a press release stated.
At the time, Bridges said that Moreno was an illegal immigrant that had been working in the Nacogdoches area for a few years.