By Danielle Silva
A video of a child’s interview was presented to the jury in a child sexual abuse case.
Mr. Margarito Alvarez is charged with eight counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, and one count of such acts with a child under the age of 14 by force. He is being represented by Deputy Public Defender Karen Soell. The prosecution is represented by Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays.
The prosecution continued with the testimony of Officer Jeremy Warren. Officer Warren had originally been part of the Winters Police Department before leaving in 2012. In 2011, he had been the lead investigator in the Alvarez case.
Among several materials he collected in the case, Officer Warren collected video of an interview on October 13, 2011. This interview was a Multi-Disciplinary Interview, also known as an MDI, which is an interview method to reduce the stress the interviewee may face from talking about traumatic events. These interviews are usually used in child abuse cases and other extreme abuse cases.
The 2011 interview, collected by Officer Warren and presented to the jury, happened between the defendant’s seven-year-old niece and a female interviewer. The room had a large round table and a table full of various dolls. The interview had been conducted with a mix of Spanish and English between the niece and interviewer.
The first occasion involved the defendant exposing himself. The defendant, the niece, and an older female relative had been at his apartment. The other relative had been eating in one room while the niece had been in the living room watching television. The niece described that she saw the defendant masturbating in the bathroom. He still had his shirt and pants on but the zipper had been open. As he left the bathroom, she saw him again with his genitalia exposed. She was not clear if he told her to look or if she turned around and saw him. After this, she went into her aunt’s room and locked the door, turning the television on in there instead.
The second instance involved a massage the defendant gave to the niece. The niece shared she had been getting a massage with her cousin. Both had been lying on their stomachs. She stated her uncle only rubbed her cousin on the back but the defendant’s hand also touched her between her legs, reaching to the front. It was unclear if an older relative interfered or the niece moved away.
In a later instance, the niece also described being shown a magazine. In the magazine, one of the pictures displayed some sort of adult paraphernalia, though it was unclear if it was genitalia or a sex toy.
The niece said whenever her uncle performed inappropriate touches, she would try to pull away. On one occasion, the niece stated they hugged so that their private parts were pressed together. The niece also briefly mentioned her aunt lending her pants to change out of a dress.
Officer Warren had been present during this interview. In addition to gathering the interview footage, he had also performed a 2011 search on the defendant’s apartment for pornography No one had been in the apartment at the time so the officer talked to management for a key. During the search, he located several phones, an adult sex toy magazine, an Xbox, and disks. These items were turned in to the district attorney’s office since they had access to search these electronic devices. The officer did not know to whom each of these devices belonged.
In 2015, Officer Warren would return to the apartment for a follow-up, despite no longer being the investigating officer. Mr. Alvarez, his partner “RM,” and his child no longer appeared to be living there. Officer Warren stepped down from the stand, expecting to be recalled on Wednesday morning for potential further testimony.
The morning session ended with the former partner of Mr. Alvarez, RM, taking the stand. She noted that she had two children, one from her relationship with the defendant. They met in 2006 through her brother-in-law and remained as a couple for 5 years. They had never gotten married.
The trial is expected to resume during the afternoon and through Wednesday.