With the courthouse dog, Petra, at her side, the girl cried as she testified about how the defendant, Cesar Gomez, allegedly raped her from the time she was in the second grade.
The defendant faces a sentence range of 25 to 99 years in prison with no possibility of parole, defense attorney Don Davidson said.
The child said she went to the office of her school counselor, who reported the incident to police. The victim then went to the hospital for an exam. The girl testified that Gomez threatened to kill her and her mother if she told anyone.
Gomez, who confessed to police in a DVD that he committed the rapes, pleaded not guilty to the charge in court. In his opening statement to the jury, prosecutor Jason Parrish said Gomez was entitled to a trial and to make the state prove its case against the defendant.
“Her sexual torture began in the second grade,” Parrish said. “She finally broke her silence on March 1 when she was 14 by going to her counselor and saying she needed help,” he said.
Parrish told jurors that when Tyler police investigators went to the defendant's home, there were cameras placed inside and outside of the home, along with a television monitor placed inside the master bedroom. The prosecutor said the data was encrypted, and police were unable to retrieve it.
Davidson reserved his opening statement for later.
The defendant at first said he had not committed the rapes, but then admitted to it, telling police to apologize to the girl for him. “It only happens when I drink,” Gomez said to Roberts about the assaults.
Gomez then told police he swore he would never touch the girl again.
The nurse who examined the girl testified there were indications she had “experienced possible penetration.”
Misty Permenter, a registered nurse at Trinity Mother Frances, who examined the girl March 5, said there were other indications she could have had a sexually transmitted disease, although the hospital does not test cultures in those instances. Those tests are performed at a special criminal laboratory that tests for those diseases, she said.
Davidson asked Zapata if he had translated questions directly from Spanish about the alleged rape.
“It wasn't an exact translation, but I was there to help him (Roberts) understand,” Zapata said.
The prosecution is expected to rest its side today.