Man found guilty in Big Fresno Fair sex assault case
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A jury has found a man guilty of sexually assaulting two girls on rides at the Big Fresno Fair. It's the second trial for Sergio Gonzalez. The verdict means he will be spending 25 years to life in prison for the crimes.
Jurors said they had to put aside the emotion of the trial and weigh only the facts. In the end, they believed the young victims were telling the truth and the acts were intentional and criminal.
Sergio Gonzalez listened through a Spanish interpreter as the verdict was handed down. After three days of deliberations, and the first trial ending in a hung jury, this group reached another conclusion. Moments after revealing their verdict, jurors talked about making the difficult decision after hearing such emotional testimony.
Lisa Martucci said, "You have to separate yourself in order for the process to work, in order for the process to work you must separate yourself and say I have to believe this man is innocent until proven guilty, I have to treat these children like normal witnesses and I have to listen to what they are saying and push my emotions out. That's not to say that I didn't go home and cry about it, because I did."
"This was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Michelle Day. "And to see those parents in there and I looked at those parents, I wanted to scream, it's going to be ok. My heart goes out to them because their children didn't deserve to go through this."
The guilty decision was a huge relief to the victims' families. The parents of one of the young victims cried as the verdict was read. Prosecutor Bob Whalen said the two victims are recovering, from not only the sexual assault, but also the trauma of reliving it with every interview and court testimony.
"Both the sad thing and the great thing is they are so young. The sad thing is this happened to such young kids," said Whalen. "The good side of that is because they are so young they are so resilient and they can push through this."
The crimes occurred on two separate days at the Big Fresno Fair in 2009. The victims did not know each other and both rode rides where Gonzalez was a carnival worker. Outside court, the attorney representing Gonzalez said her client is not handling the conviction well.
Margarita Martinez-Baly said, "Well poorly, if you were facing the rest of your life in prison and you'd been convicted of something you didn't do, I can't even imagine."
The defense plans to appeal the decision and file a motion for a new trial.
Sergio Gonzalez worked for a company called Shamrock Shows out of Southern California.
The victims were five and seven at the time. Gonzalez will be formally sentenced in early December.
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