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Couple acquitted of child rape charge on first day of trial

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Child rape charges against a woman and her boyfriend were dropped on the first day of their trial because the victim denied any sexual abuse while testifying.

The joined trials for Ezekiel Maestas and Jamie Martinez, both 32, began Tuesday in Tierra Amarilla District Court.

Martinez was accused of holding down an 8-year-old close family relative while Maestas raped the boy in spring 2018. They both faced one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor under 13, while Maestas also faced one count of possession of a controlled substance.

But Judge Jason Lidyard ordered that Maestas be released from custody immediately, online court records show. Henry Varela, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office in Santa Fe, said the alleged victim changed his story on the stand.

“The child victim testified and denied sexual abuse and did not disclose any sexual abuse to the jury,” Varela said in an email. “As a result, the Judge issued a directed verdict and the defendants were acquitted of all charges.”

The charges cannot be refiled, Varela said.

The alleged victim and his then-7-year-old brother said in safe house interviews in May 2018 that they were molested by Maestas, and both had injuries that were consistent with sexual assault, according to court records.

Martinez was not in custody while awaiting trial. The DA’s Office attempted to have her held in jail until trial, but Lidyard denied the motion because prosecutors didn’t provide any evidence of a crime in their motion. She had no previous criminal history in New Mexico.

Maestas was initially released on his own recognizance as well, but he was later booked into the Rio Arriba County jail for violating his conditions of release, court records show.

In February 2016, Maestas was charged in Española Magistrate Court for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl at gunpoint, but the charges never made it to District Court, where felonies are handled.

District Attorney Marco Serna told the Journal in 2018 that the alleged victim changed her story and that the office couldn’t proceed with charges.

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