Calling it a “horrific” crime, a Merced County judge on Monday sentenced Guadalupe Maldonado to 11 years in state prison for a 2008 home-invasion attack on a 69-year-old Winton woman.
“My only regret, in a lot of ways, is that I can’t keep him off the streets for longer,” Judge Mark V. Bacciarini said after handing down the maximum possible sentence. “This was a horrific, horrific crime.”
Maldonado, 30, was convicted in August by a Merced Superior Court jury of robbery, burglary and elder abuse in connection with the Feb.15, 2008 attack.
The judge ordered Maldonado to register as a sex offender, though the victim denied being raped and no sex crimes were ever charged. Because Maldonado’s semen was found on the victim’s pajamas, the judge determined the motive for the assault was sexual.
Several hours before the attack, investigators said, Maldonado was released from jail on an unrelated misdemeanor drug-paraphernalia charge.
Authorities said he smashed through a back window at the woman’s home near Santa Fe Drive in Winton and climbed through.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office said Maldonado did not know the victim before the attack, which they described as “pointless” and “sick.”
“It was an awful incident, incredibly violent and random,” Deputy District Attorney Mathew Serratto said after Monday’s hearing. “It seems just completely senseless.”
After forcing his way inside, Maldonado tackled the victim and beat her face, breaking an eye socket and her jaw, authorities said.
“There was strong evidence that the victim blacked out during the attack,” Serratto said. “She came to as he was running out.”
The prosecutor said it was “unclear” if Maldonado tried to rape the unconscious woman.
Investigators searched for a suspect for several months and sent the semen on the victim’s pajamas to the state Justice Department for analysis.
In August 2008, Maldonado was arrested for burglary, which was at least his fourth arrest that year. While he was in custody, authorities determined Maldonado’s DNA matched the semen found at the scene of the home-invasion attack.
During the trial, defense attorney Christopher Caine argued that another, unknown man committed the attack. Caine said that the victim, whom he described as a “very brave, remarkable woman,” could not identify Maldonado as the attacker.
Caine said he believed most of the evidence in the case pointed away from Maldonado, but acknowledged that the DNA evidence devastated his client’s case.
“It’s very hard to argue with science,” Caine said. “The sheer weight of the DNA evidence, which was overwhelming, made the case for the jury.”
Caine questioned Maldonado’s mental competency and indicated his client may not have been able to aid his defense. However, a psychiatrist determined Maldonado was competent to stand trial.
Caine said he plans to appeal a portion of the sentence.
Debate in the courtroom on Monday centered around whether Maldonado could legally serve time for robbery and burglary charges in connection with the single incident.
Should the judge’s ruling be overturned by an appeals court, Maldonado’s sentence would be reduced to nine years and four months in state prison.