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San Juan Capistrano man gets 156 years for sexual assaults on girl, 16, and woman, 19

A 45-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 156 years to life in state prison for sexual assaults on a 16-year-old girl in a garage in San Juan Capistrano and a young woman in her car at an Irvine gas station within a five-week period in 2016.

Alejandro Hernandez Garcia of San Juan Capistrano was convicted on March 18 in a non-jury trial by Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett.

The victim of the Irvine attack said the “after-effects” of the assault, which occurred when she was 19, “have been catastrophic and devastating.”

“I wish I could bring back the girl I was before, the girl without a care in the world,” she said in a victim impact statement read aloud in court. “Now I am scared looking over my shoulder … I am still reluctant to get the help I need, the help I want — out of fear.”

She added that “a piece of me was taken that day without my permission and I will never get that back.”

She is still working to overcome the “anger and hurt” and continues to suffer from “panic attacks and mood swings,” she said.

“I endured the death of my mother at the age of 11, which I thought at the time was the worst thing that could happen … but nothing will top having your soul ripped from you,” she said. “But through it all I will be OK. I will never be the same, but I will be OK.”

The other victim told Prickett that she was working hard at school and holding down a part-time job at an El Pollo Loco while competing on the varsity wrestling team when she was attacked the afternoon of July 13, 2016. Her mother was late to pick her up, so she started walking home.

“That walk turned out to be the death of me, my biggest regret,” she said. ‘He took my pride, my success… He took everything that I stand for and worked for all of my life.”

She said she had suffered through a difficult childhood battling self-esteem issues and bullying before she was attacked.

“The rape fully crushed my fulfillment,” she said. “The day he got arrested, I cried tears of joy.”

Garcia was convicted of two counts each of forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by foreign object and force, and one count each of rape, sodomy by force, attempted rape while a victim is unable to resist and assault with intent to commit a sex offense, all felonies. The “156 years to life” sentence is the legal phrasing.

Deputy District Attorney Devin Crowley told Prickett during the trial that the first victim had stopped to talk to friends near a carport in an apartment complex when Garcia dragged her into a garage, where he was using drugs, and told her he was a “powerful person who could exert violence against people.”

“He continued to make verbal threats as (he) proceeded to sexually assault” the victim repeatedly for “several hours,” Crowley said.

The teen’s friend eventually went to look for her and saw the garage was locked, then returned again later and was able to break into the garage with help from others, where they found the victim “naked underneath a blanket” as Garcia “was putting his clothes back on.”

The victim left with her friend, who told her brother’s girlfriend, and eventually the police were contacted, Crowley said.

On Aug. 18, 2016, the other victim was driving home after drinking with friends when she stopped at a gas station in Irvine to try to get her cellphone charged and Garcia offered to help her do it in his car, Crowley said.

“She woke up, felt heavy, under the influence of some sort of drug, and woke up with the defendant on top of her, making grunting sounds,” the prosecutor said.

About one year after the first victim was attacked, she spotted the defendant and confronted him, “and an altercation ensues and ultimately the defendant is assaulted and taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries,” Crowley said.

At the hospital, DNA samples were taken from the defendant and investigators linked him to the assaults, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Ed Welbourn argued that while his client’s DNA was found on underwear, he said there was not enough evidence to prove the victim was wearing it. Welbourn also questioned the girl’s inconsistent statements to police and at trial, and he disputed that the teen was dragged into the garage and kidnapped.

The second victim, he told City News Service, “showed up at the gas station intoxicated. She was drinking rum and Cokes with her friends. There was no evidence that my client gave her any sort of substance.”

A toxicology report showed the woman had methamphetamine in her system, but she denied taking it, Welbourn said.

File source

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