YC ex-convict found innocent
A Sutter County jury Thursday found Rodney R. Sisneros of Yuba City not guilty of molesting three of his nieces last year.
Sisneros, 39, who spent a year in custody awaiting trial, said afterward it felt good to be free.
He thanked his attorney, Norman Hansen, Hansen's investigator and the jury "for sitting and listening."
But the main emotion he had while hearing the verdict was regret about the trial's effect on his family, Sisneros said in a telephone interview after he left the county jail.
"This family was torn apart because of this. It will never be the same," he said.
Sisneros, who uses a wheelchair after losing part of his left leg to diabetes, said he hopes "to get my life back together" and move away from the Yuba-Sutter area, possibly to another state.
Now that he has been acquitted, Sisneros was asked: Did he commit the crimes?
"No, of course not," he said.
Jury foreperson Latrisha Rasmussen said too many members of the jury found discrepancies in the testimony of the three girls. She said she believed the girls.
The jury of nine women and three men found Sisneros not guilty of 15 counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with the girls and deadlocked on two other charges. Had the jury convicted him, Sisneros was facing 25 years to life in prison under the state's three strikes law.
Two of the girls were 7 years old at the time of the alleged crimes and the third was 8.
Witnesses included a Yuba City woman whom Sisneros was convicted of raping and trying to murder in 1986, when she was 10 years old.
Jurors could not be told that Sisneros spent 14 years in prison after being convicted of the crime, said Deputy District Attorney Jana McClung.
Jurors also did not see videotaped interviews with the girls at the Yuba City Police Department immediately after Sisneros was arrested last year. The tapes were inaudible because a microphone was placed too far away, McClung said.
Hansen argued that the oldest girl influenced the testimony of the two younger girls during the year before the trial began June 14.
Sisneros allegedly committed the crimes while staying at the home of his sister. He was charged with offenses ranging from showing pornographic videos to the girls to touching them indecently and and performing sexual acts with them.
The charges split Sisneros' extended family, with half his relatives believing he was guilty and the other half believing he was innocent, according to court testimony. None of the relatives came to court to hear the verdict.
Hansen and McClung did not comment on the verdict.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.