UPDATE (6/14): A jury on Monday convicted Jaime Mora of three charges filed in connection with the sexual abuse of a child, according to court records.
Jurors hung on a fourth charge, lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old by a defendant at least 10 years older, that was filed in connection with a second alleged victim.
Mora’s attorney said afterward they fought hard and they’re hopeful about their chances on appeal. The strongest evidence against Mora may have come from the defendant himself.
“I believe there were some statements made by my client that we just couldn’t overcome,” said Kyle J. Humphrey in reference to a phone call recorded by police in which Mora apologized to the younger alleged victim.
Humphrey said Mora faces the same penalty for someone convicted of first-degree murder. It may take decades, but Humphrey said he believes the legislature will eventually look at how the lives of both victims and the perpetrators are impacted in molestation cases and pass laws focused on rehabilitation rather than lifelong incarceration.
At trial, prosecutor Nick Lackie argued Mora preyed on two underage girls, abusing one beginning when she was 4 and the other when she was 14. He said the girls have suffered years of trauma as a result of Mora’s actions.
Lackie said Monday, “Like the family of the victims, I’m very pleased with this verdict. Justice has been a long time coming, but the defendant wasn’t able to escape it forever.”
District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in a news release that she admired the strength and courage of the younger victim — now 18 — for coming forward and testifying.
“After years of silence and suffering, this verdict gives her the justice that she deserves,” Zimmer said.
Sentencing is scheduled July 14. Mora faces a possible sentence of 30 years to life, plus 16 years, prosecutors said.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A prosecutor acknowledged multiple witnesses have testified Jaime Mora is a good man, someone who has spent his life building a solid reputation as a hard-working employee and loving husband and father.
But the crimes Mora is accused of committing aren’t the kind that occur in public or would otherwise be witnessed by friends or family, Nick Lackie told the jury during closing arguments Thursday in Mora’s child molestation trial.
Those who sexually abuse children isolate their victims, Lackie said. Typically, the only witnesses are the perpetrator and the child.
“You can be a child molester and a be a good husband,” Lackie said. “You can even be a child molester and be a good father.”
He asked the jury to return guilty verdicts on four felony charges alleging the 55-year-old Mora sexually abused one girl beginning when she was 4 and another when she was 14. The alleged crimes occurred more than a decade ago.
Mora’s attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, urged jurors not to jump to conclusions. He pointed out discrepancies between what the alleged victims — now both adults — said compared to the testimony of other witnesses.
In particular, Humphrey noted, the two people the accusers identified as having witnessed the abuse denied ever seeing Mora act inappropriately.
“The prosecution’s case does not reach beyond a reasonable doubt,” the level necessary for a criminal conviction, Humphrey told the jury.
The jury received the case around 3:30 p.m. and will continue deliberating Monday. The court has been dark on Fridays throughout the trial.
The allegations against Mora surfaced in September 2019 when a woman told police her daughter had come forward after another relative, now in her 30s, alleged Mora molested her when she was a teenager, according to court documents.
The daughter told police Mora made her watch pornographic videos and asked her inappropriate questions about her body when she was 4. She said he repeatedly sexually abused her over the next few years and gave her candy to keep her quiet.
Mora was arrested following a phone call recorded by investigators in which he admitted to the abuse and asked the woman for forgiveness.
In his closing argument, Humphrey said people falsely admit to doing something all the time. Prisons are filled with people who admitted to crimes they never committed, he said.
When Mora took that phone call, he had recently returned from a vacation to Mexico and didn’t know what to make of the accusations lobbed at him, Humphrey said. Mora told the woman what she wanted to hear, the attorney said. It doesn’t make it true.
On rebuttal, Lackie said none of the excuses Humphrey made explain why someone would admit to molesting a child if they didn’t do it.