A jury in Santa Maria has begun deliberating the fate of a 19-year-old former St. Joseph High School student accused of having unlawful sex with a fellow student.

Shane Villalpando

Shane Villalpando

Shane Villalpando, who graduated from Righetti High School last June, was charged in April 2012 with raping a 14-year-old girl while he was a student at the Orcutt Catholic high school.

The case was handed over to a jury just after 4 p.m. Tuesday in Superior Court in Santa Maria at the conclusion of closing arguments, according to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian.

The weeklong trial began last Tuesday following Villalpando’s rejection of a plea offer earlier this year.

Villalpando was tried on lesser charges — three felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor, three felony counts of child abuse, and one felony count of rape by use of drugs — following a November ruling by the late Superior Court Judge Edward Bullard.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rick Brown has presided over the case since Bullard’s recent death.

Villalpando, who posted bail and is not in custody, originally was charged with three felony counts of forcible rape, one felony count of administering a drug, and one felony count of dissuading a witness.

The 14-year-old victim’s complaint alleges Villalpando raped her on multiple occasions between Jan. 28 and April 13, 2012, and then tried to prevent or dissuade her from reporting the incidents to the police.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at gpotthoff@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.