By Julia Martinez
WOODLAND– The jury delivered a mixed verdict in the trial of a registered sex offender who allegedly invited a minor into his apartment while touching himself underneath his clothing.
The defendant, Nouphoy Phetphayboune, was charged with felony contact or communication with a minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense.
On July 15, 2019, Mr. Phetphayboune allegedly invited the 12-year-old girl into his apartment while standing in his doorway with his hands inside of his pants. Through a series of Snapchat videos, the minor captured the defendant making hand gestures in his doorway to her before she reached out to his next-door neighbor for help.
In their closing argument, the prosecutor had reminded the jury of a witness, the defendant’s next-door neighbor, who testified to seeing the defendant in his doorway the night of the incident and witnessed him and his wife having both verbal and physical altercations. The prosecutor argued that this was a trustworthy witness with no incentives to be untruthful.
The prosecution then pointed out discrepancies in Mr. Phetphayboune’s wife’s testimonies, arguing that they were therefore nonfactual.
In the defense’s closing argument, the deputy defense attorney argued that this incident was a joke being played on Mr. Phetphayboune by a teenager trying to provoke a reaction for her Snapchat videos. She emphasized how this teenager had to previously move schools due to her involvement in drama, and did this as a joke to see how far it could go.
The defense further argued that the prosecutor’s theory was not beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof needed to prove a defendant guilty, because it was speculative. She argued that the minor knocked on the door of the defendant’s apartment and hid behind the tree to film him.
Next, the defense argued there was no physical evidence proving the defendant asked the minor to kiss him, because you can only hear the minor speaking in the video. She also argued that the video was from a deceiving angle and, even if he was touching himself, that did not elicit an invitation for the minor to come inside. She also pointed out that the defendant appeared to be scratching himself, rather than touching himself inappropriately.
Lastly, the deputy defense attorney pointed out at least three inconsistencies in the minor’s testimonies.
The prosecutor responded to these arguments, claiming that there was no evidence to support the minor was making a joke, there were inconsistencies in her testimonies because she is so young, and the defendant’s hands were in his pants too long to be considered scratching.
After two days, the jury could not agree on whether or not Mr. Phetphayboune was guilty of these charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The vote was split with 7 votes for guilty and 5 votes for not guilty.
A re-trial is set to begin on July 13, 2020.
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