Twenty-six-year-old Carlos Reyna of Ennis is looking to get his life back after an Ellis County jury rendered a not guilty verdict at his trial this week in 40th District Court.
The six-man, six-woman jury panel made its decision in less than an hour’s deliberation, defense attorney Mark Griffith said, speaking for his client after the proceedings ended.
Reyna, who had no previous encounters with the law, had been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under age 6. If he had been convicted, he would have faced a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum term of life in prison. There would have been no possibility of probation – a provision of child sex laws passed by the state Legislature during its last session.
Griffith said paperwork will be filed this week to have all paperwork and court documents expunged from Reyna’s record.
The allegation arose in January 2008 at a day care, where Reyna was employed at the time.
“Under cross-examination of the alleged victim, and you do that with kid gloves when you’re talking with children, there were probably 25 inconsistencies in his testimony,” Griffith said.
The allegation was that Reyna had taken the child to his home instead of straight to school on the day care van, Griffith said, noting however that another child – who had perfect attendance and also rode the van – testified the alleged victim was always dropped off at school prior to his getting off of the van at his own school.
“There was no testimony as to the child being late to school,” Griffith said, noting that the alleged victim also was unable to identify Reyna’s residence from photographs.
The child was age 5 at the time of the alleged incident at trial – but Griffith said testimony from others during court indicated concerns about the child’s behavior had been raised two years prior – and before Reyna became an employee at the day care center.
“There was testimony that at the age of 3 1/2, before my client even worked there, that the child knew way too much about body parts and sexual activity, stuff like that,” Griffith said.
“My closing argument to the jury was, ‘Let me tell you what a not guilty verdict really says. A not guilty verdict sends a message to this child’s father and mother to put him in counseling, something that should have been done several years ago,’ ” Griffith said, citing several unusual and inappropriate behaviors exhibited by the then 3 1/2-year-old.
“Each time, the parents were informed,” he said. “I feel sorry for the kid. I have kids of my own and if I had a kid at 3 doing (those behaviors), he’d be in counseling.”
Reyna’s employment at the day care center was terminated when the allegation arose, Griffith said, noting Reyna had been free on bond as he waited for trial and has since found other employment.
“Thankfully we had a wonderfully smart, courageous jury to render a true verdict,” Griffith said. “But this type of allegation is like cutting a feather pillow on a mountaintop. How do you ever get all those feathers back? It’s just a horrible, horrible thing to be accused of. I can’t think of a worse accusation and I include murder with that.”
Reyna has had strong support from his family throughout. He agreed Griffith could discuss his case publicly so that the community would know he had been cleared of the allegation by an Ellis County jury.
Although it couldn’t be introduced at trial, Griffith said he also wanted it known that Reyna had passed a polygraph conducted by the top polygrapher in the nation.
The polygrapher had told Griffith, “There is no shred of doubt when (Reyna) says it never happened.”
However, under the law, polygraph results are not admissible at trial, no matter the result, no matter which side has it done.
After the trial was over, Griffith said he was able to speak with several of the jurors. When he told one of them about the polygraph result, he said the juror responded, “I’m not surprised a bit.”
Griffith extended credit to his co-counsel and associate on the case, Monica Bishop.
“This is a 50/50 effort for sure. I didn’t win this case. We won this case,” he said.
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