A man who raped and robbed another undocumented migrant during an illegal border-crossing was sentenced at Santa Cruz County Superior Court last week to seven years of prison.

Felix Torres Medina, 28, of Nayarit, Mexico, was sentenced after pleading no contest to one count of sexual assault, a Class 2 felony, and one count of robbery, a Class 4 felony. Judge Thomas Fink sentenced him to seven years for the first offense and 2.5 years for the second, but ordered that the two terms be served concurrently (at the same time).

The judge gave Torres credit for the 262 days he served in custody prior to sentencing.

According to Torres’ pre-sentence report, the U.S. Border Patrol called the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office on April 14, 2021, to say that they had taken a woman into custody who said she had been robbed. When a deputy went to take the woman’s statement, she said that she had also been raped by the person who robbed her.

The woman said she had crossed the border with a group of people that initially included men and women, but the women and men separated after they started walking through the desert.

What’s more, she said, the men took all the food and water.

The woman said she then left two others behind as she went in search of help. However, she was surprised by one of the male members of the group, whom she later identified as Torres.

She said he grabbed her from behind and began to grope her. When she tried to escape and then pleaded with him to let her go, he threw her to the ground, took off her clothes and raped her.

After it was over, she said, she ran away. But then she ran into Torres again, and he demanded and then seized her phone, which also contained her ID and several other important cards.

She got away from Torres again, and both were separately detained by Border Patrol agents – he was caught near the entrance to the observatory on Mt. Hopkins Road and she was found in another location east of Amado.

Following their detention, the woman positively identified Torres as the man who raped and robbed her. What’s more, he was found in possession of her belongings, according to the pre-sentence report.

Torres originally pleaded guilty to the two counts in July 2021 and was sent to be sentenced on Aug. 16. However, during the sentencing hearing, Judge Fink expressed concern about Torres’ apparent passivity during a pre-sentence interview with a probation officer, and said he had doubts that Torres was willfully and knowingly waiving his rights.

In addition, the judge “has reservations about the defendant accepting culpability,” according to a minute entry from the Aug. 16 hearing.

The judge didn’t reject the plea deal at that time, however, and instead assigned a new lawyer to work with Torres to make sure he understood the process.

In the end, Torres was convicted of the same two offenses he originally pleaded guilty to; the only difference was that he pleaded no contest instead of guilty.

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