An Atwater man was found not guilty last week of raping a woman in 2011 at the Castle View Apartments complex.
A Merced County Superior Court jury of six men and six women deliberated only about 30 minutes before acquitting 34-year-old Ray Martinez on felony charges of forcible rape and sodomy and false imprisonment in connection with an incident on Sept. 29, 2011, defense attorney John Garcia said.
“I think it came down to credibility issues,” Garcia commented. “Either you believed my client, Mr. Martinez, or the alleged victim in this case.”
The verdict was handed down Wednesday before Judge Ronald W. Hansen.
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The Merced County District Attorney’s Office charged Martinez, a maintenance worker, with attacking the 44-year-old woman.
The woman did not report the alleged abuse until more than a month later, Deputy District Attorney Allen Turner confirmed.
“There are many good reasons why a person would not report abuse right away,” Turner noted. But he acknowledged a lack of physical evidence made the case more challenging for jurors. “These are always tough cases for a jury and I think juries have even more difficulty when the report of an attack is delayed,” he said.
The defense argued that the woman fabricated the charges after Martinez ended their relationship, which Garcia described as a romantic relationship that lasted more than a year. Garcia said there was evidence the woman wanted more of a commitment and possibly an engagement, but Martinez felt differently.
On the witness stand, the woman denied that argument and said her relationship with Martinez was nothing more than “friends with benefits.”
Garcia said he was happy for Martinez, who he said has no significant criminal record and was an innocent man.
“I always believed in my client and I’m happy that he has been released (from jail),” Garcia said.