FLORENCE, AZ (10/8/13) – On Monday, a Pinal County Jury returned a guilty verdict for Fernando Almanza after the Pinal County Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuted him for sexual conduct with a minor.
Almanza worked on a ranch in Winkelman, Arizona, where he was employed to fix fences and tend to the animals.
Pinal County prosecutors proved that on October 22, 2011, Almanza lured the 4 year old victim to an isolated part of the ranch, where he sexually violated her. After the incident, the female victim told her mother that the ranch hand, at a ranch where the mother lived and worked, touched her and that he had sharp nails. The mother immediately contacted the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, whose detectives conducted a thorough and professional investigation with assistance from organizations from around the state.
With medical evidence explaining the significance of abrasions found on the victim and experts from DPS Crime Lab stating why this type of case might lack DNA evidence, the State properly anticipated potential issues and provided facts to the jury proving Almanza’s guilt. Additionally, PCAO introduced the use of new technology, purchased with RICO Funds, in the courtroom, enabling prosecutors to present evidence in a clear and efficient manner.
In sum, the successful collection of evidence and facts surrounding the sexual conduct in this case is a tribute to the ongoing partnerships between the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, Tucson Medical Center, Flagstaff Medical Center’s Safe Child Center, and the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center. The Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center, located in a neighboring county, serves the same purpose as the Family Advocacy Center in San Tan Valley championed by Pinal County Attorney Voyles and targeted to open in 2014.
“By opening a Family Advocacy Center in San Tan Valley, medical examinations and interviews could have been performed at one location and closer to the victim’s home,” said Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles. He continued to say, “I, clearly,
thank all of the law enforcement agencies, medical centers and family advocacy centers involved with this case as well as my prosecution team. Throughout this entire ordeal, though, I want to recognize the victim for her continuous cooperation and endless courage from the moment when she, a 4 year old, told her mother of what happened to now, as a 6 year old child, who bravely testified on her own behalf.”
Almanza will be sentenced on November 8, 2013 and faces a mandatory life sentence in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years.