Kase sentences Marquez to six years in prison

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Almost two years after admitting to his involvement in an incident that happened in 2010, Johnny Marquez, 72, of Lemitar, was sentenced to six years in prison on Friday in district court.

The sentencing stems from a police complaint filed in 2012, in which the parents of an 11-year-old girl claimed Marquez improperly touched their daughter in 2010. Marquez is the girl's grandfather.

Marquez was charged with two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor – a second degree felony. His original plea was entered as no contest, therefore avoiding a jury trial. At a hearing in October however, Marquez requested that his plea be changed to not guilty, and that he be given a jury trial; he had said the girl wasn't telling the complete truth.

Judge Edmund "Ted" Kase III ruled Friday that Marquez should be removed from society for a period of six years. The complete sentence handed down was six years for each count, to run concurrently; Marquez will be eligible for parole after five years, one month and six days.

Assistant District Attorney Mercedes Carrie Murphy had asked for the full 12 years in prison, but Kase took into account the defendant's age in ruling the sentences to run concurrently.

"As part of the sentence, Marquez must be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his natural life," Murphy said. "The court also made a recommendation to the parole board to order the defendant to participate in counseling to insure that he doesn't commit these acts again."

She said the judge has no authority over the parole board, but he can make recommendations.

"He also recommended that the parole board order the defendant to have no unsupervised contact with minor children, including family members for the rest of his natural life," Murphy said.

Depending on the board's decision, Marquez could be subject to a parole period of a minimum of five years.

Over the course of the five-hour hearing, Marquez' attorney Albert Costales called 12 witnesses who testified to Marquez' character as well as his expertise and reliability as a builder and contractor.

Prosecutor Murphy called two witnesses to the stand: Richard Lopez, the then-detective who first interviewed Marquez and conducted the investigation, and Vickie Dowell, victim advocate for the District Attorney's office. Dowell read a letter from the girl's father, which expressed how the victim has suffered and the changes the family has noticed in her behavior.

"In the letter, he asked the court to impose the maximum allowed under the law," Murphy said. "The father relayed to the court that he felt that the defendant should be punished and that it was up to the court to do that. He also expressed that the defendant had taken away his daughter's innocence."

While Murphy said he did ask for 12, six years incarceration is a fair sentence given the defendant's age.

"Both the APO and myself made the point that the defendant didn't take responsibility for his actions," he said.