Ray Anthony Gonzales, 57, pleaded guilty to the charges of child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, criminal attempt to rape and cruelty to children and was sentenced to spend 15 years in jail, with 20 years of probation to follow.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Anne Allen said the sentence, which the state recommended, is “basically a life sentence,” given Gonzales’ age and health conditions.
Gonzales said during his guilty plea that he takes medication for diabetes, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. His case was continued last month because of an unexpected trip to the hospital shortly before his trial was expected to begin.
Gonzales, who represented himself through Tuesday’s six-hour jury selection process, was given one final chance to enter a guilty plea or request an attorney Wednesday morning by Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon. Blackmon said Gonzales could have some time to think on the matter and speak with Allen. Thirty minutes after breaking, Gonzales reported to Blackmon that he wished to plead guilty.
The jury picked on Tuesday was not present for the guilty plea, but was told the circumstances after Gonzales had pleaded and had been taken to a holding cell.
During the guilty plea, Allen gave a factual basis for the indictment, saying Gonzales had moved in with a Michigan family who had previously adopted the victim. Allen said Gonzales started “touching” the 13-year-old victim in Michigan, and continued when the family moved to Clayton County, Ga.
The family moved to Villa Rica on June 30, 2009, Allen said, when the victim was 14 years old. The acts were allegedly continuous throughout the time.
“It got to a point where she was sleeping in his room, and he wasn’t sleeping with his girlfriend,” Allen said. “The victim spent most of her time in his room behind a locked door.”
Allen described some of the acts Gonzales allegedly forced the victim to perform.
The abuse was not intentionally reported by the victim, Allen said, but was found out after a note written to a friend was found in the victim’s backpack at school.
“[The victim] just wishes for it to have it over,” Allen said. “She’s moved back to Michigan and has a new life.”
The victim chose not to testify or give an impact statement at the plea.
Gonazles stated Monday that the crux of his defense relied on proving that the alleged victim in question was over the age of 16 at the time of the crimes.
He had no objection Monday during pre-trial motions for a written admission of his to be submitted as evidence before the jury — in fact, he welcomed the document’s entering, saying it was going to be the major part of his defense.
On Monday, Blackmon paraphrased portions of the April motion made by Gonzales, saying, “You say something like, ‘Yes, I had sex with the victim, but it was for money, a bribery sort of thing.’ It doesn’t matter if it was paid for or a matter of money or whatever, Georgia law doesn’t allow for having sex with a minor.”
Blackmon gave Gonzales a choice before the jury pool was brought in on whether he would like a public defender to sit with him during the trial, as a point of reference and advice. Gonzales said he did wish to have someone with legal training seated with him, and the public defender’s office chose Shikera Turner, who Gonzales had previously fired because of her previous knowledge of the case.
Also on Tuesday, the defendant was told the range of punishment of the charges he was facing if found guilty by the jury. Blackmon said Gonzales is facing anywhere between 92 years in jail and four consecutive life sentences if convicted by a jury.