OCEANSIDE — A San Diego jury on May 26 convicted a 28-year-old man for molesting his niece while the girl was visiting her grandmother’s house in Oceanside.
After nearly four full days of deliberation, the jury found Walter Emilio Blanco guilty of two counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 in connection to the molestation of his niece in 2003. The panel, however, was hung on a third count of the aforementioned charge as well as a molestation allegation that was attached to the first count.
Prosecutors alleged Blanco molested his niece, who was 11 years old at the time, while the two were hanging out at the victim’s grandmother’s house and at Oceanside beach during a summer vacation.
In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai described the sexual acts as “heinous” and “atrocious.” Lai pointed to the girl’s statements to police and in court as well as a police recorded phone call she made in 2008 to Blanco in which he apologizes for molesting her as proof of the defendant’s guilt.
Lai told jurors Blanco was trying to spin the details of the sexual assault in that phone call to minimize the acts.
However, Blanco’s attorney, Herb Weston, told jurors in his closing argument that Blanco was simply placating his niece when he admitted to touching her inappropriately. He added that the defendant denied any sexual intercourse in the taped phone call.
“He’s saying events occurred that didn’t occur,” said Weston, adding that his client was willing to apologize for a crime he didn’t commit so that the victim would drop the subject.
Weston also pointed to the victim’s statements saying they were inconsistent as proof that his client was not guilty.
On the stand, Blanco, who now faces up to 10 years in prison, denied molesting his niece. His sentencing date was set for July 28.