Age and Jurisdiction Restrictions Limit the Charges Pressed Against Offender

By Naomi Cherone

RIVERSIDE — On Friday morning, Everardo Guerrero Saucedo faced five charges of sexual assault that he had allegedly inflicted on to a fourteen year old victim. 

Through the compilation of evidence and attempts to recount the offenses to the people, this preliminary hearing consisted of several loose ends that were expected to be mended. Judge Anthony Villalobos tried to connect the evidence and testimony, but the council’s polarized arguments greatly clouded his judgement, leading to a less conclusive hearing overall. 

At the beginning of the hearing, there had been four charges placed on Guerrero, all of which coincided with several inappropriate and forceful encounters he initiated with the victim. These instances occurred within the timespan of August of 2016 to September of 2018, during which no one had known about the incidents besides the victim and Guerrero, who at the time had been a family friend of the victim.

From driving down from Imperial City to Mexicali for monthly orthodontist appointments, to visiting the victim’s family, Guerrero was said to have been disturbingly masterful at concealing the trauma he inflicted on the victim. The victim’s interview with a trained professional revealed that Guerrero had even threatened the victim countless times by stating that if she were to tell anyone about his inappropriate behavior, he would do the same thing to the victim’s sister. 

The interview used as evidence in this case also revealed that the victim had been fourteen during the most intrusive act that Guerrero had forced upon her. But the age of fourteen no longer meets the age requirements for many of the penal codes that Guerrero would have otherwise infringed upon. 

Guerrero’s attorney also brought up that there had also not been any evidence regarding whether the incident had happened within the Mexican or American jurisdictions. 

“We did not get any evidence that the drive back from Mexico took the same route… that it was still in Mexico… it may have been in Mexico, San Diego, San Bernardino, we don’t know where it was at all. The holding order is not warranted based on jurisdiction,” said Guerrero’s attorney.

The five charges that were tacked onto Guerrero were then put into question on the grounds that, the victim was fourteen and would not be protected under the respective penal codes; and there was no evidence that Guerrero had been within the jurisdiction of Riverside, or even in the United States, in order to follow through with the charges.

Guerrero’s attorney added: “I don’t even think we even have probable cause that she was under 14. The officer said they heard the birthdate and that he calculated her age to be under 14, [but] that testimony was extremely sloppy. Defense even sought clarification on critical specific pieces of information… that they just didn’t have.”

Jose Munoz, Riverside County Sheriff Department Investigator, presented himself in court in order to share the findings on the pretext call he had conducted with Guerrero and Refugio Velazquez, the victim’s father. This call was meant to lure Guerrero into admitting to what he did to the victim, and possibly share more about what he actually had done.

The call started with Velazquez telling Guerrero that he knew what he had done, and wanted to fix things “man-to-man.” Guerrero seemed willing to cooperate with Velazquez, in hopes that the victim nor Vasquez would refrain from denouncing what he had done to legal authorities. 

Although Guerrero did not explicitly say what he had done to the victim, he did share that, “He was an idiot for what he did, admitted to the crime and said that he had no way to justify what he had done to the victim,” said Investigator Munoz.

Considering this was just the preliminary hearing, there are still many more details to be expected from this case, but from what was revealed, there will be a lot of technicalities that will need to be addressed—from the possible jurisdiction violation, verifying that the victim was indeed fourteen at the time of the occurrence, and clarifying the details of what actually happened. 

From the limited information provided, Judge Anthony Villalobos was able to drop two counts, out of the five, strictly due to the lack of evidence to prove the bounds of the jurisdiction and confirm the victim’s age.

The remaining three counts, one of them being a felony, are expected to be dealt with on Guerrero’s arraignment date of May 10th.

Naomi Cherone is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s social justice desk. She is a San Diego native that is majoring in Sociology at UCLA, while planning on pursuing law in the near future.

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