Emotional victims speak out at molest case resentencing
Several of the victims of convicted child molester Luis Ponce delivered emotional and impassioned statements at this resentencing in Nevada County Superior Court Monday, calling the court’s decision to reduce his sentence to 30 years to life “disappointing” and something to be ashamed of.
Ponce was convicted of 16 counts for molesting girls between the ages of 1 and 3, and videotaping the assaults. Ponce — who was raising eight children, six of whom were adopted — was arrested on Jan. 26, 2006, after police searched his work and home, finding a mountain of evidence against him, including several computer discs and videotapes.
Ponce, who was sentenced in 2007 to 68 years to life in state prison, successfully overturned that sentencing after Judge Thomas Anderson ruled he was ineffectively represented by his attorney.
In October 2012, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his attorney had failed to properly advise him regarding a plea bargain; an evidentiary hearing was held in July 2014.
Anderson subsequently ruled in his favor, citing Ponce’s testimony that his attorney never discussed a plan for his defense and never discussed the benefits of a plea bargain. Ponce testified that he first became aware he was facing a potential sentence of 160 years to life after the trial.
Anderson ruled that Ponce likely would have been granted the sentence of 30 years to life and should be resentenced to that term.
His resentencing was handled by Judge Candace Heidelberger, who said that her hands were tied and that she didn’t have any option other than to follow Anderson’s ruling, and who noted that Ponce will be 80 before he is eligible for parole.
“I strongly disagree with the court’s ruling in this case,” said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow. “This was a very contentious hearing and much evidence was presented that counsel was not ineffective.”
Ow added that she wanted the victims’ statements on the record for any possible parole hearings.
“I’m very disappointed in Nevada County and the justice system,” said a tearful Keri Lockard, Ponce’s daughter and one of his victims.
Lockard said that many of the victims were not included in the trial, and that the victims were not notified of the habeas corpus hearing.
“Justice clearly has not been served,” Lockard said, adding that she was fearful her father would re-offend if he was released out of prison.
“This community should be aware of who he is and what he did,” said his son, Nicholas Ponce. “This was one of the worst child molest cases Nevada County has ever seen.”
Nicholas Ponce said the reversal of his father’s sentence was not ethically or morally right, adding, “He ruined so many lives … Everyone should be ashamed.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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