A California appeals court has upheld the 2013 conviction of a Planada man who had sexually explicit online conversations with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl but who was actually an undercover Merced police officer.
Luis Miguel Munoz, 25, appealed his conviction, arguing Merced police Detective Dan Dabney “induced him to act criminally” and that Merced Superior Court Judge Mark V. Bacciarini violated his due process rights by refusing to instruct jurors on the defense arguments of entrapment.
However, the 5th District Court of Appeal rejected both arguments and upheld Munoz’s conviction and sentence, according a copy of the court’s opinion. The opinion was published June 9.
Munoz’s attorney, Marilyn Burkhardt, declined to comment Monday.
The case centered on Dabney posing as a 13-year-old girl called “Chavalita” during online conversations with Munoz in January and early February 2012, according to court records.
Munoz was convicted by a jury in March 2013 on felony counts of contacting a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense and attending an arranged illicit meeting with a minor. He was sentenced to serve nine months in jail and three years in state prison on a suspended sentence. He also was ordered to serve five years on felony probation, according to court records.
The case was triggered when Munoz posted an announcement on Craigslist, offering money for panties, according to court records.
Acting as the teen girl, the detective responded to Munoz’s offer and asked if he wanted her panties or her mother’s.
Munoz initially asked for the mother’s underwear, but later requested panties from the person he thought was a teenager. Those online conversations continued for about five weeks and turned explicit with Munoz discussing sex acts with the girl, court records show.
Munoz arranged to have sex with the girl and showed up at a McDonald’s parking lot on Feb. 10, 2012, carrying condoms, authorities said.
The appellate court noted Munoz was repeatedly reminded of the girl’s age and had multiple opportunities to stop the conversations.