A 33-year-old man who allegedly fled to Mexico after being accused of sexually assaulting a girl in Puna more than five-and-a-half years ago will stand trial on multiple charges.
On Friday, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura scheduled trial for Mauro Martin Ortiz for 9 a.m. May 12. Ortiz is charged with kidnapping, seven courts of first-degree sexual assault and five counts of third-degree sexual assault.
Kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault are Class A felonies carrying a possible 20-year prison sentence, while third-degree sexual assault is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
The charges stem from an incident in the early morning hours of June 22, 2008, in Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision, where Ortiz lived at the time.
Ortiz was indicted by a Hilo grand jury July 10, 2008, but police couldn’t locate him to arrest him at the time. Numerous media bulletins were issued and he was featured for five months on the public access cable television show “Hawaii Island’s Most Wanted.”
Ortiz, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, appeared in custody in lieu of $1 million bail. Nakamura maintained the bail amount.
Ortiz’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, said he had only short notice of the arraignment and plea and had not yet received prosecutors’ files in the case, and had not been able to review the alleged facts and circumstances surrounding the charges with his client.
“Because we do not … have any information regarding the procedural process in this case, or the long delays between the time of the indictment and today, we cannot waive Mr. Ortiz’s rights to speedy trial. … Your Honor, we are demanding at this point the exercising of Mr. Ortiz’s right to a speedy trial.”
Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata said under the original indictment, Ortiz’s speedy trial deadline would have been Jan. 6, 2009. Ordinarily, prosecutors have 180 days from the time an individual is charged with a crime to bring the defendant to trial.
“However, our investigation revealed that defendant fled from Hawaii in July 2008 to Phoenix,” she said.
Nagata added Ortiz went to Mexico “in approximately January 2009, so this time would be excluded” from the speedy trial deadline.
“I believe defendant was not present in this jurisdiction to answer to these charges,” she said.
Ebesugawa said the defense was “not conceding to those representations.”
The judge read an immigration statement to Ortiz, who, according to Kelly Mayne, an investigator for the Prosecutor’s Office, is a Mexican citizen with legal immigration status. The statement, which is routinely read to defendants during arraignment, advises a conviction could lead to deportation from the U.S if the defendant is not a U.S citizen.
Nakamura also asked several questions of Ortiz, who answered each with, “Yes, your Honor.”
Nagata said Mayne “was instrumental in the investigation and getting (Ortiz) apprehended.”
“With the cooperation of Homeland Security and the Hawaii Fugitive Task Force, Kelly determined that he (Ortiz) went to Phoenix and then to Mexico and that’s where he was eventually apprehended,” Nagata said. “He was extradited back by the U.S. Marshal’s Hawaii Fugitive Task Force from Mexico City.”
Mayne, who flew to Honolulu on Thursday with another investigator to escort Ortiz back to Hilo, said Mexican law enforcement authorities turned Ortiz over to U.S Marshals on the extradition warrant.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.