Strike offense dismissed in child molest case
A Nevada County judge ruled against the prosecution in regard to one count in a multi-victim molest case that has been wending its way through the courts for two years.
Robert Lewis Taylor initially was charged in January 2014 with one count of continuous sexual abuse, four counts of lewd acts on a child, one count of sexual battery by restraint and four counts of child molestation involving three girls, one of whom said she was 11 at the time.
The day that Taylor’s trial on the original criminal complaint was set to start on July 27, 2015, a motion was filed by defense attorney Stephen Munkelt because he received an interview with one of the alleged victims. Munkelt’s request for a continuance was granted, the jury was dismissed and a new trial date was to be discussed.
Instead, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow asked to dismiss that case, and filed a new case with Judge Candace Heidelberger, which alleged 19 counts involving six victims — of continual sexual abuse, lewd acts, dissuading a witness, sexual battery by restraint, sexual penetration by a foreign object and child molestation. Several of the counts included a special allegation of substantial sexual conduct involving multiple victims, as well as a special allegation that the offense was punishable by life imprisonment.
Deputy Public Defender Courtney Abril, who took over the case, asked the court to dismiss four of the counts involving one of the victims, arguing that the alleged acts occurred so long ago that they exceeded the statute of limitations.
Ow agreed to dismiss three of the counts, but argued that one count of lewd acts against a child should be retained, because it happened some time between 1987 and 1989. Abril, however, argued that the charge — a strike offense — occurred before the one strike law was enacted in 1994.
In a hearing in Nevada County Superior Court Monday, Judge Robert Tice-Raskin denied a request by Ow to amend the criminal complaint, saying that even with an alteration of the date range of the alleged crime, the count is time-barred.
A preliminary hearing into the evidence has been set for Feb. 19.
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Authorities have identified a man as a person of interest in one Nevada City homicide, and have also released the name of a victim in an unrelated homicide investigation.