Man linked to missing girl found guilty in child porn trial
FORT MYERS, Fla. The suspect in the disappearance of a San Carlos Park girl was found guilty Tuesday of producing and possessing child pornography.
Jorge Guerrero was linked to lewd images of Diana Alvarez, who was 9 when she went missing nearly a year ago.
“This is a key component to finding where Diana is,” said Tom Busatta, an attorney for Diana’s family.
Some jurors shook their heads, covered their mouths and looked away Tuesday as prosecutors showed seven graphic photos that Guerrero admitted were of him and Diana.
The prosecution and defense rested and made closing arguments Tuesday afternoon and the jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes.
Diana’s family exchanged hugs after the verdict was read. Guerrero stood with a straight face, and defense attorney Roger Azcona described Guerrero’s mood as sullen after the verdict.
Guerrero pleaded not guilty in June. He didn’t take the stand during the three-day trial.
He faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in federal prison. Busatta expressed hope Guerrero would agree to a break on his sentence in exchange for information that could help them find the girl.
But prosecutors would first have to offer such a deal to Guerrero. A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 14.
Jurors were shown video of a Lee County Sheriff’s Office interrogation of Guerrero in which he admitted the photos were of him and Diana, and that he took the photos. Guerrero also admitted to a sexual relationship with the girl.
But the defense contended the sheriff’s office can’t prove who took the photos and also argued that detectives can’t be certain of the age of the female in them.
Prosecutors brought in a pediatric expert to testify and confirm the photos were of a minor. He was on the stand for more than an hour as the defense cross-examined him and argued he was paid to testify.
Kimberly Meline, an FBI forensic investigator, testified Tuesday that a thumb visible in the photos was consistent with other images of Guerrero’s thumb.
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and you’ve seen several images in this courtroom,” prosecutor Jesus Casas said Tuesday during closing arguments.
Defense attorney Roger Azcona argued the photos shouldn’t necessarily be considered pornographic.
Diana’s mother, Rita Hernandez, attended Tuesday’s proceedings in the wake of her collapse after testifying Monday. She was present as prosecutors showed the graphic photos but didn’t have a direct view.
Prosecutors were unable to mention Guerrero as a suspect in Alvarez’s disappearance, per a court ruling. He’s never been formally charged with kidnapping her.