Vegas News

Sexual assault charge disputed in teacher assault case

Public defenders have asked a judge to dismiss a sexual assault charge against a 16-year-old student accused of attacking an Eldorado High School teacher.

“If the Court is swayed at all by the State’s arguments, they only go to support the count of Attempt Sexual Assault,” public defenders for Jonathan Martinez Garcia wrote in court documents filed Oct. 11. “There was no evidence adduced at Grand Jury that would support anything beyond Attempt Sexual Assault.”

A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday in front of District Judge Kathleen Delaney.

Martinez Garcia was indicted in August on 10 felony counts in connection with the April 7 attack — first-degree kidnapping resulting in substantial bodily harm, two counts of battery by strangulation with the intent to commit sexual assault, battery with the intent to commit sexual assault resulting in substantial bodily harm, two counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and robbery.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Public defenders Tyler Gaston and Jennifer Smith wrote in a petition for writ of habeas corpus that prosecutors did not present “sufficient evidence” to show that Martinez Garcia sexually assaulted the teacher. The attorneys argued that when the teacher testified to a grand jury, the details she described did not meet the statutory definition of sexual assault.

Las Vegas police have said that Martinez Garcia attacked the teacher when he went to her classroom to discuss his grades. According to his arrest report, Martinez Garcia choked the teacher with a “rope or string,” knocked her unconscious and moved a shelf on top of her before sitting on it.

The teen initially told police that he blacked out and did not remember the attack, but he later said he remembered trying to choke the teacher.

He also told police, “I think I forced myself onto her,” and “I raped her,” according to his arrest report.

When the teacher testified, she said she had passed out during the attack and “could not provide any specific information about any alleged sexual assault,” public defenders argued.

Prosecutors wrote in the court documents that the physical evidence in the case and Martinez Garcia’s statements amounted to enough “slight or marginal evidence” to charge the teenager with sexual assault.

Public defenders also argued that the first-degree kidnapping charge should be dismissed because it should not stand as a separate charge from the attempted murder or sexual assault counts.

They also argued that Martinez Garcia should only be charged with one count each of attempted murder and battery by strangulation with intent to commit sexual assault, and that prosecutors “presented insufficient evidence” to add a deadly weapon enhancement to one of the attempted murder counts.

Chief Deputy District Attorney William Rowles wrote in court documents that the separate charges Martinez Garcia faces are for “distinct acts” during the attack. He also argued that there was enough evidence for the deadly weapon enhancement because of testimony that Martinez Garcia attempted to cut the teacher’s wrist with an object that caused a “patterned injury.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.



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