Ponce gets life in prison
Convicted child molester Luis Ponce sobbed in court Monday as he begged a Nevada County Superior Court judge to show leniency in sentencing because he’s been reading the Bible and wants to be a productive member of society.
“Mercy doesn’t have much to do with what we’re here to do today,” Judge Ersel Edwards said. “I don’t believe you’ll ever leave prison … If you want to contribute to society, you’ll have to contribute from prison.”
Edwards sentenced Ponce to 63 years to life in state prison, the cumulative sentence for 16 counts of various forms of child molestation, including oral copulation and rape.
Ponce, 50, will have to reach the age of 113 to be eligible for parole.
He was convicted May 23 by a Nevada County jurors who were forced to watch footage of Ponce molesting girls between the ages of 1 and 3.
Ponce videotaped the footage himself.
“Those are images I will take to my grave,” Edwards said Monday.
Deputy District Attorney Charles O’Rourke said Ponce’s taping of his actions aided in his own prosecution.
“You can’t argue with a videotape,” he said.
Ponce’s biological son from his first marriage read a statement written by his mother Jane Kinderman.
Ponce and Kinderman had two children together. After their divorce, Ponce married nurse Katherine Kray. Ponce and Kray adopted six children. Kray divorced Ponce after his incarceration. Kray and her children were not present in court Monday.
“Many times I lay awake at night wondering what (Ponce) did to my children during visitation,” Kinderman wrote, referring to her ex-husband as a “monster,” and asking the judge to impose “the most stringent sentence possible.”
She and her daughter wept as Ponce read his statement in court.
“I have deep remorse for my mistakes and transgressions,” Ponce said in court Monday. “The seed of pornography led to my secret life of addiction.”
He paused and cried as he admitted his conduct devastated the lives of all eight of his children.
“I realize my need for treatment and I welcome rehabilitation,” he said. He mentioned volunteer work he has done and said he wanted to attend counseling for sexual addiction.
Ponce 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.
The discs contained child pornography, and the videotapes contained Ponce’s footage.
Investigators with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office were tipped off when Ponce’s co-worker at the Berkeley Fire Department reported finding some of the discs at Ponce’s work station.
Ponce commuted to his job as a paramedic from his home on Rattlesnake Road.
Edwards ruled Monday that Ponce will also be required to pay $3,060 to Nevada County Victim/Witness for services provided to his family plus $4,367 in fines and court fees. He is not allowed to contact any of his children.
“This has been a difficult time for everyone brought on solely by your conduct,” Edwards said. “What you have done to your dignity you have done to yourself.”
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm @theunion.com or call 477-4236.
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