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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:42 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º


Santa Maria Man Faces 150 Years In State Prison After Guilty Verdicts for Sexual Molestation

A Santa Maria man faces 150 years to life in state prison after a Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury on Friday found him guilty of 13 felony charges for sexually molesting a young girl.

After deliberating approximately an hour, jurors returned the verdict Friday afternoon in the case against Eduardo Barragan Barajas, 32, who was charged in connection with incidents involving a young relative by marriage.

Those charges include six counts of sexual penetration with a child 10 years of age or younger and seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under age 14. The incidents occurred between 2013 and 2016, according to authorities.

“He told Detective (Jose) DeLeijia ‘I couldn’t control myself,’” Deputy District Attorney William Ha said in his closing argument Friday morning. 

The defendant also told police after his arrest, “Well, I had sexual relations with her but I never hit her or hurt her," Ha told jurors.

Barajas raped the girl several times a week in her bedroom, a place that should have been a sanctuary, Ha said. “Instead her bedroom was a prison due to his sick perversion,” Ha said, later called the defendant “this monster.”

The girl remained silent about the incidents among fears the man would hurt her mother, Ha said.

“She was raped for years and she suffered in silence,” Ha added.

The defendant told police the incidents began when the girl was 8 years old, recalling first playing with her and then beginning to have sexual intercourse, Ha said, later calling Barajas a “sexual predator.”

Defense attorney Erica Sutherland admitted her client was guilty of five counts of lewd and lascivious acts, but the argued the girl and other witnesses did not know when other the incidents took place.

“The question is when those acts occurred,” she said, calling the acts against the girl heartbreaking.

But she also urged jurors to set aside their emotions during deliberations and look at the hard evidence. 

Sutherland pointed out that trauma can impair a person’s memory.

“As a result her statements are inconsistent and unreliable,” she said. 

While Barajas told police after his arrest the sexual intercourse occurred when the girl was 8 years old, Sutherland denied it happened when the girl was that young. 

“We all know she was touched inappropriately. We don’t know when it started," Sutherland said.

The defendant was “overwhelmingly cooperative” because he thought it would lead to help, she added.  

The trial before Judge James Voysey began April 19 with jury selection, and opening statements and testimony from witnesses started April 27.

The judge ordered Barajas to return June 4 for sentencing when he faces 150 years to life in state prison.

“It is my hope that Jane Doe can find justice with these verdicts for the years of abuse she suffered,” Ha said after the verdict. “She showed more courage than anyone I have ever come across.

“The members of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office and the Santa Maria Police Department put a lot of time and effort into this case to ensure justice for Jane Doe,” Ha added.

“This case was proof that child abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and these crimes will be prosecuted and punished."

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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