Wednesday, December 17, 2008
By Nate Taylor
Prosecutors asked to dismiss felony rape charges against a Fort Collins man facing a possible life sentence after the alleged victim testified Tuesday morning.
Salvador Mireles, 45, faced two charges of rape, one for penetration of a victim incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct, and a second for forced rape. He also faced a charge of third degree assault causing bodily injury.
Mireles was arrested in May. His attorney said the alleged victim's injuries didn't match her claims.
But after the alleged victim, who is Mireles' ex-girlfriend, testified Tuesday morning, Larimer County Deputy District Attorney Josh Lehman moved to dismiss the charges. Judge James Hiatt granted the motion.
After the trial, Lehman said a lot of the things the woman was asked about during her testimony were incidents the defense knew about and the prosecutors didn't. She testified, for example, that before the alleged rape, she aborted Mireles' child, but she told him she had a miscarriage and that it was his fault.
Her answers during that period made it tough for prosecutors to hang their case on her word, said Derek Samuelson, Mireles' attorney. He called the motion for dismissal at the trial highly unusual.
Lehman said there was some physical evidence to support going to trial despite the defense team's claim that she had only minor injuries despite claiming Mireles raped her and beat her.
But given her testimony, Lehman couldn't meet the burden of proof.
"I wouldn't have taken the case to trial if I knew I couldn't prove (the burden) beyond a reasonable doubt," he said. "I knew there were concerns, but ultimately, I felt the evidence was strong enough to go to trial."
Mireles is being held at the Larimer County Detention Center as he awaits sentencing after a disposition was reached in 2004 on two felony counts of controlled substance distribution, according to Colorado court records.
Louann DeCoursey, the executive director of the Fort Collins Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center, said she hopes the outcome of the case doesn't deter victims from coming forward or encourage police not to believe victims. She said all rape victims need to be believed.
According to SAVA, 24 percent of women and 6 percent of men have either been raped or victims of attempted sexual assault, and 11,000 Colorado women and men are victims each year. The most recent statistics indicate only 16 percent of victims report the crime to police.