Man found guilty of kidnapping two Coos Bay girls
COQUILLE, Ore.-- It took two and a half hours for a jury to convict a man accused of kidnapping two Coos Bay girls last July for the intention of taking them to a North Bend park for sexual and alcohol related activities.
A jury convicted Robert Wayne Perez of all charges against him Wednesday afternoon at the Coos County Courthouse.
North Bend Police found Perez and the two girls hiding at Ferry Road Park in North Bend last July. According to police and victim testimony, Perez had forced the girls to hide and be quiet when police approached the park on July 9th.
Police would stumble upon the two girls, 12 and 13, who would tell police that a 15-minute trip to the convenience store in Coos Bay to get cigarettes for one of the girl's mothers turned into a tobacco, marijuana and alcohol filled joy ride around the bay area.
The girls said Perez had forced them to consume the substances, and they complied with his demands because they were afraid for their lives.
"It burned as I swallowed it," said one girl on the stand Tuesday. "I didn't want to drink it, but he said I had to... It hurt my chest."
Both girls testified that Perez furnished the alcohol to them, and despite one girl initially taking a sip out of curiosity, he ended up forcing both girls to consume what he called "Grandpa's Medicine."
The defense argued that one of the girls pressured Perez into keeping them out later because she was having problems at home with one of her parents. The defense referred to the fued as a "mother-teenage daughter fight" that Perez happened to get caught in the middle of.
The defense also noted that one of the victims admitted to drinking and smoking for many years growing up, and that same witness testified that she had lied to police so she wouldn't get in trouble.
It was also noted that Perez had driven the two girls around the bay area that same morning without incident. He was taking one of the girls to other's house for a sleepover.
In the end, the jury would side the state.
In closing arguments on Wednesday, Coos County Assistant District Attorney Stephen Petty would argue that the girls weren't excited about the car ride that night, they did not want to consume alcohol Perez had supplied for them, and when he stopped and picked up some rope and surgical tubing before he drove the girls to the park, the girls began to fear for their safety.
Petty also proved to the jury through witness testimony that the girls were forced to hide from police, and they were afraid of what was going to happen to them in the park later that night.
Since Perez's arrest, North Bend Police have stated that if it wasn't for one officer driving through the park at the right time, Perez could have done more to the girls.
Despite Perez testifying on the stand that he has no sexual attraction to the young girls, the girls say they feared they were going to be raped.
Once the verdict was deliverd, Perez held his head in his hands, shook his head and began to cry.
This year has not been a good year for Perez. Wednesday's convcition makes this his fifth felony he has been found guilty of since 2001. His fourth conviction came just last week when he was found guilty of burglary and theft. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to violating his parole by using drugs.
It was noted at the trial on Wednesday that on the morning of July 9, 2012, Perez was being charged with burglary and theft and knowingly signed a court document that made him swear he would not break any laws while that case was underway. Later that night, Perez would kidnap the two girls and take them on an drug and alcohol-filled joy-ride through North Bend which would end in his arrest at Ferry Road Park.
A jury handed down a second verdict Wednesday afternoon saying Perez knowingly committed criminal actions and knew the seriousness of his behavior. That conviction will be used to determine how long Perez will be sentenced for kidnapping, coercion, harassment and furnishing alcohol to a minor, among other charges.
Perez will be sentenced October 1st. It is expected his sentence for theft and burglary will be lumped into his new kidnapping conviction.