A man who stood trial earlier this month and was convicted of raping an eight year old boy received a 32 year prison term Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.
During a sentencing hearing, Judge David Patterson gave 31 year old Jose Reyes just eight years short of the maximum penalty on the charge for which he was found guilty, Rape of a child. The range of punishment in the case was 25 to 40 years.
A motion for a new trial will be heard on August 28
Reyes is accused of raping the boy between November 2012 and March 2013.
The trial was held on Tuesday, July 1 in DeKalb County Criminal Court and it took the jury of six men and six women only half an hour to find Reyes guilty of the crime.
According to Gary McKenzie, Deputy District Attorney General, one of the prosecutors in the case, Reyes was a trusted friend of the boy and his family prior to this incident and he had been renting a room in the home of the child's aunt. "Jose was an acquaintance of the aunt. Somehow there was a friendship. He asked to rent a room and it kind of went from there. It (offense) occurred at the aunt's home. That's where it took place," said McKenzie following the trial.
The child, who has just turned ten years old, testified during the trial that he was at his aunt's home when Reyes committed the act while the two of them were alone in Reyes' bedroom. Although the child did not immediately report the incident to his aunt, he did relate it to his grandmother later while at her home. When the boy's mother learned of the incident, she took him to the sheriff's department to report it, according to the grandmother.
During Monday's hearing Greg Strong, Assistant District Attorney General, asked Judge Patterson to impose the maximum penalty for the crime of 40 years and argued that several enhancing factors called for it including that the victim was particularly vulnerable because of his age or physical or mental disability; the offense was committed by the defendant to gratify his desire for pleasure or excitement; that the defendant had no hesitation about committing a crime when the risk to human life was high; that the defendant abused a position of public or private trust in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or the fulfillment of the offense; and that the defendant knew or should have known that, at the time of the offense, he was HIV positive.
Strong noted that the family's Victim Impact Statement further explains how the crime has affected them. The child's mother wrote that the crime of child rape affects the whole family. It has affected her child in many ways. He has been in trouble at school and is not able to concentrate. He has mood swings and suffers from low self esteem. And because of the rape, the child has to be frequently tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
While the family sought the maximum sentence for Reyes, they are praying for him, according to a brief statement from the child's mother read by Assistant DA Strong during Monday's hearing. "I and (the child) forgive you and pray for you daily and pray you find peace and forgiveness for yourself".
In a formal statement to the court, Reyes maintained his innocence. For some thirty minutes, Reyes through an interpreter talked about his relationship with the victim and his family and explained why he was not guilty of the crime.
Allison West, Assistant District Public Defender, asked the court to impose the minimum sentence and to discount the enhancing factors offered by the state prosecutors. " We understand that Mr. Reyes has been convicted of a very serious offense. As the court can tell from what he has to say, he maintains his innocence. Mr. Reyes does not have a significant criminal history. He has only two DUI's (from 2005 in DeKalb County and another from 2009 in White County). He has no felony history and no violent history. He is not a native to our country and does not understand the appropriate actions or consequences of his actions as we might see them. We would ask the court to impose a 25 year sentence," said West.
While Judge Patterson did not find appropriate all the enhancing factors offered by the state in this case , he did take into consideration Reyes' previous history of criminal conviction or behavior; the personal injury inflicted or impact on the victim; and an abuse of Reyes' position of trust in reaching his decision for a 32 year sentence.