A closer look into the legal system: Sexual Assault

A closer look into the legal system: Sexual Assault
Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 6:33pm

A Mexican national accused of sexually assaulting three women in the Manhattan Heights neighborhood - is no stranger to borderland law enforcement. 25-year-old, Arturo Valtierra-Payan has been apprehended at least four times. Twice in 2007 for trying to illegally cross the border -- once in 2009 for a weapons charge in Mexico -- and last week for allegedly raping three women in the Manhattan Heights Neighborhood. But he's only being charged with burglary of habitation for this latest alleged crime.

It's a horrendous crime that had people in this neighborhood living in fear.

"It's nerve racking and it's definitely disconcerting,” a resident of the neighborhood told us last week.

But the suspect accused of sexually assaulting three women in the Manhattan Heights area is currently facing one charge -- burglary of habitation.

But it's the charge he's currently not facing that prompted us to ask a legal expert about sexual assault.

"Sexual assault penetration is normally required of some of the bodily orifices,” Michael Gibson, a criminal defense attorney told us. Gibson has been practicing criminal defense law in El Paso for decades.

He does not represent Arturo Valtierra-Payan, but he is well versed in the law.

The burglary of habitation charge is a first degree felony while sexual assault is a second degree felony which carries a lighter prison sentence.

"Not less than two and not more than 20 years,” Gibson explained and with a first degree felony, "Punishable normally by 5 to 99 or life. But under certain circumstances is punishable by 25, a minimum sentence of 25-years to life."

However, there are certain degrees of a crime that could warrant it as an aggravated sexual assault.

"A threat of serious bodily injury or death,” he said.

An aggravated assault charge is a first degree felony. "The use of a deadly weapon such as a knife, or pistol, a club,” he explained.

In the arrest affidavit -- the Manhattan Heights rape suspect used a knife to threaten one of his victims, "Serious bodily injury of something which causes a risk of substantial risk of death or the impairment of some bodily organ,” Gibson said.

He also told his victim, “I'm going to kill you.”

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