A 53-year-old man who admitted to police he sexually abused a teenage family member was sentenced this week to life in prison without parole after a four-day trial in the 137th District Court.
Lucio Delossantos-Narvaez faced 25 years to life in prison without parole after jurors on Thursday returned to the 137th District Court with their verdict finding him guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a child. They also found him guilty of indecency with a child by sexual contact, which carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison.
To prove the continuous sexual abuse charge, prosecutors had to show at least two instances of sexual abuse that happened at least 30 days apart.
The first count against Delossantos-Narvaez alleged four episodes of sexual abuse between April 2018 and January 2019.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours, beginning on Wednesday and continuing Thursday morning, on Delossantos-Narvaez's guilt.
Jurors deliberated for about 20 minutes before arriving at Delossantos-Narvaez's punishment, which were the maximum sentences for each count.
His charges stem from a Lubbock police investigation that began in 2019 after the girl's mother caught a reflection on a TV screen of Delossantos-Narvaez groping the child.
Jurors watched Delossantos-Narvaez's interview with Lubbock police investigators, during which he admitted to sexually abusing the girl. However, he told investigators he abused the girl from the end of December 2018 to January 2019.
During the trial, the girl recounted to jurors multiple instances of sexual abuse at Delossantos-Narvaez hands. However, she was unable to provide a specific date for when the abuse began but believed it was sometime after she turned 8 years old, but didn't know when the first episode began.
Patti Salazar, a sexual assault nurse examiner, told jurors that the girl, now 13, told her that Delossantos-Narvaez began abusing her soon after her 10th birthday.
Defense attorney Jesse Mendez told jurors in his closing argument that his client was guilty of the second count of indecency with a child, saying the state failed to prove the other instances of abuse were 30 days apart.
"That's where the controversy comes in," he said. "That's what this case is about."
Mendez said they couldn't rely on the the girl's testimony because she was unable to provide a specific date for when the abuse began.
He said Salazar's testimony about what the girl told her when she examined her in 2019 was also unreliable because of her role as a sexual assault nurse examiner.
"There's no presumption of innocence with these folks," he said. "They're paid to do this. They're one sided, they only visit with the alleged victim."
Mendez said his client's statement about abusing the girl between the end of December 2018 and January 2019 was more reliable. He said his client, a Mexican national, remained in the country knowing he was going to be arrested because he wanted to take responsibility for his actions.
"That's why his testimony is credible," Mendez said.
Lubbock County Assistant District Attorney Cara Landers told jurors that it was common for children to have trouble remembering their abuse.
"Sometimes kids don't want to remember what happened to them," she said. "Sometimes they don't want to remember when it happened to them."
However, she said the girl's family did provide details of abuse that corroborate her outcry that the abuse had been happening for months.
In one episode she recounted Delossantos-Narvaez groping her in the kitchen while the rest of her family was watching movies in the living room.
Landers told jurors that Delossantos-Narvaez's brazen actions stemmed from having abused the girl for a long time.
"That's how you know it was happening for more than 30 days," she said.
During the punishment phase of the trial, Landers asked jurors for a life sentence for Delossantos-Narvaez, saying it was the only way to protect the community from him.
"That is the only way to assure that this can't happen again to her or to another child in Lubbock or in any other location," she said after the trial.
Mendez said after the trial his client will be appealing his conviction.
Landers said the jury's verdict showed the jury's commitment to protecting the community.
"Any time we ask a child to come in and talk about the worst thing that's ever happened to them and any time we have law enforcement agencies who fully investigate a case and do such a wonderful job of protecting our kids, it's an honor to get to fight for justice for those victims and it's truly an honor to have juries in Lubbock who want to protect and who want to do the right thing and who fairly consider evidence and reach those verdicts," she said. "We're always proud to do that."
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Man sent to life in prison without parole for sexually abusing girl