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The People v. Juan Manuel Valdez

April 5, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JUAN MANUEL VALDEZ, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. NA081344 APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, James D. Otto, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kriegler, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Affirmed.

A jury found defendant and appellant Juan Manuel Valdez guilty of seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child in violation of Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a).*fn1 The three victims--Crystal (counts 1 and 2), Jessica (counts 3 through 6), and Irene (count 8)--were the grandchildren of Valdez's girlfriend.*fn2 As to each count, the jury found defendant committed the offense against more than one victim pursuant to the "one strike" law set forth in section 667.61, subdivision (b). The trial court applied the one strike law and sentenced defendant to consecutive terms of 15 years to life on counts 1, 3, 6, and 8, two of which involved Jessica, along with concurrent terms of 15 years to life for the remaining three.

In his timely appeal, defendant contends it was impermissible to impose multiple one strike sentences for convictions as to Jessica where the only aggravating circumstance was the multiple-victim factor under the applicable version of section 667.61. According to defendant, the 1998 version of the one strike law permitted the imposition of only one indeterminate term as to each victim. Alternatively, defendant contends imposition of mandatory consecutive sentences was improper under the Estrada rule*fn3 because of a 2006 amendment to section 667.61. We affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

The three victims were sisters. Defendant was the boyfriend of their grandmother. In 2001, defendant lived in the same house with the grandmother and the three sisters on Opp Street in Wilmington.

Crystal--Counts 1 and 2

Crystal turned eight years old in 2001. One night in April, when Crystal's mother was in the hospital giving birth, defendant followed Crystal to the girls' bedroom and closed the door behind them. When Crystal lay down on the bed, defendant pulled down her pants and underwear, removed his own pants, and penetrated her vagina with his penis, causing pain to Crystal. She kicked defendant in the face and began to cry. Defendant told her not to say anything about it or he would hit her. When her grandmother entered the room and asked why she was crying, Crystal lied and said she had hurt her finger. She was afraid to tell the truth. The following morning, Crystal saw blood on her underwear. Her vaginal area burned when she urinated.

A second incident occurred a few years later, after defendant had moved out of the home to an apartment in Wilmington. Defendant was visiting them and Crystal was sitting on the couch. When Crystal's grandmother went to the bathroom, defendant tried to put his hands under Crystal's shirt in the area of her breasts. She pushed him away and yelled for her grandmother. Defendant told the grandmother that Crystal was "just crazy." Crystal did not tell her grandmother what defendant had done because she did not think anyone would believe her.

In 2008, when she was 14 or 15 years old, Crystal finally told her mother about defendant's abuse, after Jessica had disclosed defendant's conduct to their mother. Her mother called the police, and Crystal told the officer what defendant had done to her.

Jessica--Counts 3 Through 6

Jessica was one year younger than Crystal. In 2001, when defendant was about to leave the house after a visit, he reached into her pajama pants and rubbed the skin of her buttocks.

Within a year of that incident, Jessica was lying down on her bunk bed, while one of her sisters was in the upper bunk. Defendant entered the room, lay down beside Jessica, unzipped his pants, and began "humping" her. She felt his penis against her pajama pants in the area of her vagina. Jessica did not tell anyone ...


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