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First evidence in Fresno kidnapping, molestation case

Friday, July 06, 2012

Prosecutors have laid out the framework Thursday for the kidnapping and molestation case against Gregory Gonzalez, six felony charges in a case that drew national attention. The 26-year-old is accused of abducting a girl then getting caught by a Good Samaritan.

It's been 21 months since the 8-year-old was kidnapped. An Amber Alert followed, and Victor Perez saved the girl the next day. On Thursday, we heard the evidence pointing at Gonzalez as the man who took the little girl from in front of her own home.

The Amber Alert went out quickly on that day in October 2010. Several witnesses saw a man in a pickup truck abduct the 8-year-old girl who had been playing outside with a 6-year-old friend. The younger girl told police the man pulled up to them and tried to lure both girls into his truck.

"He told them he would take them to the store and buy toys and coloring," Fresno police officer Jesse Navarro said the girl told him.

We're not allowed to show you the faces of police who testified or the suspect, Gregory Gonzalez, as they appeared in court. We're also not showing the girl because prosecutors say the suspect sexually assaulted her.

Several witnesses at the scene of the crime identified Gonzalez as the man who took the girl. Prosecutors say the sexual assault happened that night. By the next morning, Victor Perez had learned of the kidnapping on the news. When he saw a pickup truck matching the description he saw on TV, Perez hopped into action, cutting off the pickup in the street once, then a second time when the driver tried to elude him.

"Mr. Perez said that this time, he knew this was the truck involved," said Fresno police officer Leo Martinez. "He knew this was the little girl kidnapped and he said he wasn't going to let this truck get away."

The suspect drove away again, but when Perez cut him off a third time, the man pushed his captive out the passenger door. Perez grabbed her and had friends call police.

Officers took the girl to the hospital to check for evidence of sexual assault. When they caught Gonzalez, the victim herself became the last to identify him as her attacker.

"She said 'that's him,'" said Fresno police officer Armond French.

"And after she saw him, did she ask you anything else?" asked prosecutor Michelle Eskew.

"Yes she did," said French.

"What'd she say?" asked Eskew.

"[She said,] 'Am I safe?'" French said.

Perez was hailed as a hero by the girl's mother, the police chief, and even then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Neither he nor the girl had to testify Thursday, but if the case goes to trial, they'll both have to take the stand.

Gonzalez is due back in court later this month.

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Tags:
crimetracker, kidnapping, sex crimes, court, fresno, fresno county, local, corin hoggard
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