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Madison County man’s child molesting, solicitation convictions upheld

February 14, 2019

An Alexandria man who unsuccessfully moved for a mistrial and challenged evidence the state produced to convict him of child molesting failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court had erred or that his 12-year executed sentence was inappropriate.

The COA affirmed Daniel Vega’s sentence and convictions of Level 3 felony child molesting and two counts of Level 5 felony child solicitation in Madison Circuit Court. Vega was 18 when he was charged with sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl while he was living with his uncle, who also had helped him find employment at his uncle’s workplace.

The appellate panel found that Vega has abused a position of trust with the girl and abused the generosity of family members who had helped him find employment and a place to live. “Accordingly, we cannot say that his aggregate sentence of fifteen years, with three years suspended to probation, is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel in Daniel Vega v. State of Indiana18A-CR-942.

Along with rejecting his sentence appeal, the panel also rejected Vega’s claims that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting video of the forensic interview with the victim and denying his request for a psychological examination of the victim at public expense. The COA concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding Vega’s victim was a protected person who would suffer serious emotional distress if made to testify, and therefore was properly deemed unavailable for trial. Likewise, the COA found Vega did not demonstrate the need for the victim to undergo another mental health evaluation at public expense.

The COA also concluded Vega had not preserved for appeal his arguments that the trial court abused its discretion by impermissibly admitting “drumbeat evidence” and in denying his motion for a mistrial for the state’s delay in disclosing that relatives of the victim also had been interviewed.

“We initially note that Vega’s argument on appeal is that he was unduly prejudiced by the State’s untimely disclosure of potential discovery. Under that theory, Vega should have moved for a continuance in the trial court. See Warren v. State, 725 N.E.2d 828, 832 (Ind. 2000),” Najam wrote. “He did not. Accordingly, he has not preserved this alleged error for our review.

“Vega’s waiver notwithstanding, as explained by the trial court Vega had the opportunity to depose” the relative who the victim had identified in her forensic interview well before trial, the panel concluded.

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