Wyoming Supreme Court Rejects Casper Rapist’s Appeal
The Wyoming Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by a Casper resident found guilty of first-degree sexual abuse of a child and second-degree sexual abuse of a child.
"The record contains sufficient evidence to sustain Ms. Martinez's convictions for sexual abuse of a minor in the first and second degree," the Supreme Court unanimously ruled.
"We also conclude the district court did not err when it ruled the defense's proffered character evidence was in admissible. We therefore affirm the Judgment and Sentence," the Court ruled.
A six-woman, six-man jury found Miguel Alberto Martinez, who identifies as female and is also known as Michelle, guilty of raping a 10-year-old girl after a three-day trial in Natrona County District Court in October 2017.
After the prosecution rested at the end of the trial, Martinez's defense asked Judge Catherine Wilking to acquit her on both charges, saying the prosecution did not meet the burden of proof about the elements of sexual intrusion or contact, and there was no DNA evidence linking Martinez to the victim.
Wilking denied the defense's motion for acquittal.
In January, Wilking sentenced Martinez to 30-45 years for first-degree sexual abuse of a child. Wilking also ordered Martinez to serve a concurrent 15- to 20-year sentence on one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a child.
After the jury announced the guilty verdict, Martinez said he would appeal the decision.
A month after his conviction, Martinez unsuccessfully asked Wilking for a new trial.
In the appeal, Martinez asked the Wyoming Supreme Court whether Wilking erred when she denied the motion for acquittal.
The Supreme Court responded that a motion for acquittal is granted only if "'a reasonable juror must have a reasonable doubt as to the existence of any of the essential elements of the crime.'"
The Court upheld the testimony of the victim, rejected Martinez's objection about the lack of DNA evidence, and agreed with the prosecution that Martinez committed the act for sexual gratification.
The Justices also rejected Martinez's claim that the District Court was wrong to exclude testimony from a woman who had questions about the victim's character.