Jurors find Valtierra-Payan guilty in Manhattan Heights rape case

KDBC
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 5:17pm

UPDATE: Jurors found Arturo Valdierra-Payan guilty on all five counts in the case of the third victim in the Manhattan Heights neighborhood last summer.

Sentencing in the case will get underway shortly in the case. Make sure to tune in at 5:30pm for the latest updates from the courtroom.

EARLIER: Despite rigorous objections from the defense, the jury in the trial of accused Manhattan Heights rapist Arturo Valtierra-Payan will view a photo of the defendant’s genitals as part of the evidence during its deliberations.

Both the state and defense rested their cases Tuesday morning. One of the prosecution’s final witnesses was the accuser at the center of the trial.

Prosecutors allege Valtierra, a Mexican national, kicked down the door of the victim’s home in June of 2013, attacked and raped her, and threatened her with a knife before stealing some of her jewelry.

The accuser told investigators the defendant threatened to cut off one of her fingers if she didn’t remove one of her rings and give it to him.

“I thought I was going to die,” the woman said on the stand.

In her testimony, the woman also described what prosecutor Penny Hamilton called an “identifying characteristic” related to Valtierra’s genitals. Hamilton later asked the judge for permission to include a photo of the defendant’s penis as part of the evidence given to the jury.

The defense objected, calling the photo “irrelevant.”

“It’s only meant to inflame the passions of the jury,” said defense attorney Patrick Lara.

Hamilton countered, telling the court, “It’s entirely relevant to a characteristic of the defendant’s body that the victim testified to today.”

The judge sided with the prosecution and allowed the image into evidence.

Monday, the state presented DNA evidence it said links Valtierra to the crime, and showed photos of footprints at the scene it said match shoes owned by the defendant.

During its closing argument Tuesday, the defense questioned the credibility of the DNA results and recapped the testimony of its sole witness, a doctor who said some of the DNA samples might have been contaminated.

“Do not rush to judgment in this case,” Lara told the jury.

The panel is made up of 8 women and 6 men, including alternates. The jury began its delibrations shortly after noon on Tuesday.

Valtierra, 26, is also charged in the sexual assaults of two other women in the same Central El Paso neighborhood, along with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

He faces 5 to 99 years in prison, if convicted.

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