Comal County jurors will return today to continue deliberating the guilt or innocence of a New Braunfels man accused of continually molesting his grandniece nearly 10 years ago.
The seven-woman, five-man panel deliberated for hours Wednesday after receiving the court charge in the trial of Eusebio Martinez-Rodriguez, 68, accused of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 in Judge Jack Robison’s 207th District Court.
A conviction on the charge carries a sentence of between 5 to 99 years to life in prison on the first-degree felony, meaning Martinez-Rodriguez could spend the
rest of his life behind bars.
Martinez-Rodriguez’s Nov. 7, 2018 indictment alleged he “committed two or more acts” against her between “on or about the 24th day of July 2010 through on or about the 24th day of July 2012,” when the girl was between the ages of 5 and 7.
Chief Felony Prosecutor Sammy McCrary rested the state’s case after Tuesday’s testimony by the alleged victim, her mother and a female cousin. Court-appointed defense attorney Alfonso Cabanas had little to offer Wednesday, as the defendant neither testified nor presented witnesses during the two-day trial.
The alleged victim testified she, her mother and two sisters lived with several other family members at her grandparents’ home in the 2500 block of West Katy Street when her great-uncle abused her “at least 50 times” during the two years outlined in the indictment. On Tuesday, she testified she couldn’t remember exact times and dates of the abuse, saying her uncle used his fingers to explore her privates during each instance.
Her cousin later testified that Martinez-Rodriguez, also her great-uncle, had molested her when she was 9. She recalled she and the defendant were watching TV in her grandparents’ living room when she felt his fingers go inside her underwear. She testified she jumped up and escaped before he could go any further.
Neither girl, now ages 15 and 19 respectively, immediately told family members of the incidents. The alleged victim testified she didn’t tell her mother until years later, on June 30, 2018. Her mother testified she went to New Braunfels police, and their investigation led to Martinez-Rodriguez’s arrest on July 18, 2018.
Cabanas offered no witnesses on Martinez-Rodriguez’s behalf and closed his case Wednesday morning. After the jury charge was reviewed, both attorneys staged closing arguments.
“We don’t know what happened, when it happened, where it happened and who did it,” Cabanas told jurors. “There’s nothing but reasonable doubt here.
“Nothing happened here (in this trial),” he added. “Don’t compromise. Believing the child in this case, who has told nothing short of lies, will change this man’s life dramatically, and send him to prison for a very long time.”
McCrary countered his closing by referring to the accuser’s cousin, who testified about her one-time encounter with Martinez-Rodriguez.
“The defendant moved on to the younger (cousin), someone who was a little less capable of taking care of herself,” McCrary said. “The only question is did this man commit more than two acts of sex abuse. This case is simple — either (the girls) are liars or he’s a child molester.
“There were others in the family who had been in trouble (before) so why not any of them? It’s because it couldn’t have been anyone else but uncle Eusebio.”
The victim, mother and other family members sobbed silently during closing arguments. Robison directed jurors, who submitted queries during deliberations that lasted until 5 p.m., to return at 9 a.m. Thursday.