Testimony continued Monday in the case of a local man accused of inappropriately touching a young girl.
Angelo Martinez, an officer of the Cortez Police Department, testified in 22nd Judicial District Court that he was called to the scene of a fight that had just taken place in a Cortez home, where an angry father assaulted Trever James Morrill, 30, and accused him of molesting his daughter.
Martinez testified he arrived at the home to find the alleged victims father being held back by his mother, who followed him to Morrills home. The father told the officer his daughter had been molested, Martinez testified.
The father was arrested by Martinez and later pleaded guilty to third-degree assault.
Jury members watched a video of the arrest that Martinez recorded. Two videos were shown Friday in which the alleged victim told forensic interviewers in two separate interviews that Morrill touched her.
La Plata County Social Worker Carol Powers, one of the interviewers, testified the alleged victim said Morrill touched her, then pointed to the genital area of an anatomical drawing.
On cross examination, Powers conceded the girl might have been influenced by the questioning of her father, who reportedly confronted her with repeated questions after becoming concerned about her behavior.
If a child believes that a question is being repeated because they did not give the right answer, they will change their answer, Powers said.
However, Powers said there were professional methods to determine if a child had been coerced into giving certain statements and she did not see any indication the alleged victim was coerced or coached into making the allegations.
Representing Morrill, attorney Christopher Decker previously argued the girl gave the alleged confession only after being asked repeatedly by an emotionally upset father.
This suspicious and angry father asked her over and over again, Decker said, alleging the father told investigators he questioned her for more than an hour.
The alleged victims father testified Thursday, saying he questioned the girl for approximately 45 minutes, although he was unsure of the exact duration. He said he asked the girl if Morrill touched her and she said yes.
Decker accused him of having preconceived notions about what happened to the girl and asking her about it until she told him what he wanted to hear.
Thats the last thing any father would want to hear, the father replied.
The mother of the alleged victim testified the girl began harming herself in February of 2010 by picking at her face and ears. After her alleged confession to her father in May, the self-harming abruptly stopped.
During a police interview following the allegations, Morrill reportedly denied touching the girl.
Decker told the jury the alleged victims statements were inconsistent.
This is a case about an innocent man accused of something unspeakable, Decker said.
The start of the trial was delayed when additional evidence was discovered at the last minute. Both prosecution and defense said they were unaware of the existence of the evidence.
District Judge Todd Plewe ruled there were multiple violations on the part of the 22nd Judicial District Attorneys office for not disclosing the evidence, but said he believes the violations were unintentional. He informed the jury of the violations, saying he wanted to avoid jury speculation as to the reason for the delay.
Morrill was charged with sexual assault on a child, and an additional pattern of abuse charge of sexual assault on a child.
Morrill is not in custody at this time.
Reach Reid Wright at [email protected]