NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches County jury has sentenced a man to 47 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison for kidnapping, tying up, and sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in 2015.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, the jury found Juan Perez Moreno guilty of four counts of felony sexual assault of a child.
Moreno, a 45-year-old illegal immigrant who was working in the Nacogdoches area at the time of the alleged sexual assault, 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.
During closing arguments,Reynaldo Morin, the defense attorney, told jurors that evidence suggests the case is not clear and convincing. He reminded the jury that all witnesses said the little girl mentioned her hands and mouth being taped, but the little girl said her hands, feet, and mouth were taped. He then made the point that it is hard to do sexual activities when a person's feet are taped up.
Morin next said that Investigator Bill Murphy with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office could not find the tape that was used in the alleged sexual assault anywhere on the property. They looked everywhere. They looked for more evidence, but it was all hard to find
The court-appointed attorney also reminded the jury a lot of people lived on that property, and instead of the little girl going to family members to talk about her complaints, she chose to go to her teacher.
Morin said there is a lot of doubt that came from the witness stand, and for that reason, the defense is asking a verdict of not guilty.
In her closing arguments, Nacogdoches County District Attorney Nicole LoStracco said during the little girl's testimony, she gave a lot of details about what happened to her physically. The DA said that for almost three years, the girl's story was consistent, even though her teachers expressed how it was hard for her to put things in chronological order.
LaStracco next reminded the jury that the little girl only went into detail about what was done to her after she knew she would be protected from the accused, Juan Moreno.
The DA also said the witnesses all said Moreno worked from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening, but during the day of the execution of the search warrant Moreno was home. He was at home when he was arrested.
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.