By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — After four hours of deliberation, a 12-person jury found Jose Izaguirre guilty of two counts of child molesting.
Sentencing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. May 20. After the trial, Izaguirre was remanded to the custody of the Kosciusko County Sheriff.
Izaguirre, 32, Warsaw, was initially charged with three counts of child molesting, all level 1 felonies. The jury found him not guilty on the first molesting charge but found him guilty on the second and third molesting charges.
In Indiana, a Level 1 felony charge carries a 20 to 40 years prison sentence.
At the beginning of today’s trial proceedings, the defense presented Izaguirre’s testimony as sole evidence for its case. A translator worked alongside Izaguirre to interpret what was said in court.
In his testimony, Izaguirre reflected on a bad experience he had with law enforcement while he lived in Mexico. He connected that moment to feeling pressured and terrified during his interview with Warsaw Police Department Detective Paul Heaton about the molestation allegations.
Izaguirre said as the interview with Heaton continued, he began to feel afraid and thought Heaton might harm him. In regards to his Miranda rights being read to him, Izaguirre said he remembered Heaton reading something but that he didn’t understand most of what was said or Heaton’s explanations.
Defense Attorney Jay Rigdon asked Izaguirre why he requested to speak with the child’s mother while at the police department. Izaguirre said she thought she would understand what was happening. He also said he was unaware of the conversation between him and the child’s mother being video recorded while at the police department. Izaguirre stated there were no signs in Spanish at the police department that informed him of video recording.
When asked why he apologized to the child’s mother, Izaguirre said he was sorry because he was afraid that Heaton would harm him. While testifying, Izaguirre denied having any sexual contact or engaging in any type of inappropriate activity with the child. He stated that he believed the child made the allegations because they were upset about not being allowed to hang out with friends.
Izaguirre said he answered affirmatively to the allegations Heaton presented during the interview because he was afraid of him.
“I didn’t want him to hurt me,” said Izaguirre.
In cross-examination, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Sobek asked Izaguirre if he recalled joking around with Heaton through small talk prior to being taken to the police station. He also asked what Izaguirre did at the police department prior to the child’s mother arriving to speak with him.
Izaguirre said he was just trying to have a conversation with Heaton and that he fell asleep prior to the child’s mother’s arrival.
“So you were so terrified you were sleeping?” asked Sobek.
Through closing arguments, Sobek asked the jury to find Izaguirre guilty on all three child molesting charges.
“The defendant victimized (the child) over and over and over again,” said Sobek. “His actions against the child were cyclical and repeated, over and over.”
He reflected on an English transcript provided to jurors of the primarily Spanish conversation between Izaguirre and the child’s mother. In that conversation, the child’s mother asked if any type of penetration occurred. Izaguirre said ‘un poquito,’ or a little bit. Sobek also asked the jury to consider an anatomical drawing the child created of Izaguirre’s genitalia.
“(The child) thought it would be detrimental to their family if they said what happened,” said Sobek, stating the child’s fear of familial harm gives more credibility to their testimony. “He (Izaguirre) will say anything he can come up with to be found not guilty.”
Rigdon asked the jury to find Izaguirre not guilty on all three charges. He focused on the lack of physical evidence, as well as Izaguirre’s testimony denying the acts and fear of Heaton.
“His (Heaton’s) concern was if Mr. Izaguirre understood his rights, he might exercise them,” said Rigdon, asking the jury to consider Heaton not giving Izaguirre his Miranda rights in Spanish. “Every person sitting here in this courtroom deserves fair treatment, no matter what language they speak.”
He reflected on Izaguirre’s prior bad experience with law enforcement in Mexico and said Heaton’s interrogation technique made Izaguirre fearful. Rigdon also said that in their testimony, the child said one certain type of inappropriate activity did not occur; however, in her testimony to the court, Sarah Coburn, a sexual assault nurse examiner, said the child told her that that specific incident did occur. He also questioned why the state called Coburn as a witness when she did not have any physical evidence of sexual assault occurring to the child.
“It’s just been one person’s story again and again,” said Rigdon. “That’s a significant deviation.”
In his final argument, Sobek focused on Izaguirre being able to speak English and how the most incriminating statements Izaguirre made were in Spanish.
“Folks, he speaks English,” said Sobek. “It’s that simple. He watched English movies without subtitles, his wedding ceremony was in English, he frequently talked to family and friends in English.”