The Wyoming Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a Casper woman’s conviction on two counts of sexual abuse following her appeal to the state’s highest court.
A jury in October, 2017, convicted Miguel Alberto “Michelle” Martinez of sexually abusing a 10-year-old in the bathroom of a local home. A judge later sentenced her to 30 to 45 years in prison.
Martinez said she understood that the jury’s decision is final, but referred to the crimes as “something I know in my heart I did not do” in a statement before the January 2018, sentencing.
In Martinez’s appeal, her attorney wrote that the trial judge should have acquitted her before the case went to jurors and should have allowed her to present evidence that the child had previously brought an unsubstantiated allegation of physical abuse against a different person.
In the Monday decision, penned by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, the court ruled against Martinez on both counts.
Although Martinez had argued that not enough evidence was presented by prosecutors to support a conviction, Boomgaarden states prosecutors had presented enough evidence to convict Martinez.
“We therefore decline Ms. Martinez’s invitation to substitute our judgment for that of the jury,” the justice wrote. “(The child)’s testimony alone is sufficient to support the jury’s finding that Ms. Martinez sexually assaulted (her).”
The trial judge, Catherine Wilking, had declined to allow the admission of the prior allegation on the basis of Wyoming’s rape shield law, which requires defendants to notify the trial court 10 days in advance of trial with a demonstration of proof if they are to bring evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual history or character.
The court did not make a ruling on whether Wilking had appropriately applied the rape shield law but instead ruled that the person who would comment about the child’s prior allegation was not personally knowledgeable about the allegation.