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Jonesboro man gets 20 years for attack on pre-teen

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Standing in the courtroom with a heavy mustache drooping over his mouth, and a red, jail jumpsuit sagging around his small body, Martin Flores was visibly disgusted.

The 20-year-old stood there, five-foot, six-inches tall, facing a judge in Clayton County Superior Court and listened to a court interpreter translate in Spanish the possible sentence for his conviction on attempted rape, molestation, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

A Clayton County jury found Flores guilty Tuesday of jumping out of the bushes in a mobile home park, grabbing a 12-year-old girl, pulling her to the ground and trying to rape her.

Judge Matthew Simmons asked Flores if he wanted to say anything before he was sentenced Friday morning.

"No," he replied, "They just don't have any evidence against me. What kind of evidence do they have against me? If she was really hurt, why didn't they take her to the doctor?"

The court-appointed translator, standing next to the now-empty jury box, wearing a tan pant suit and a translators' headset, repeated the words in English as the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and court recorders looked at the defiant defendant.

"Judge," said Lloyd Matthews, Flores' attorney, "that's our attempt to establish remorse."

Simmons told Flores that there was, actually, a lot of evidence against him. The defendant had heard the evidence, during the trial, and the 12-member jury had heard the evidence and found Flores guilty on all counts.

The presented evidence included the victim, who is not being named because of her age and the nature of the crime, identifying Flores as the man who assaulted her in 2006, at Clayton Mobile Home Park, 6347 Tara Boulevard.

The 12-year-old was walking down the street, when Flores came out of some bushes and grabbed her. He said, "Come here. I want to talk to you," the evidence showed. She tried to pull away, but he held on, hurting her hand and pulling her into the bushes. He pulled down her pants and underwear and tried to rape her, holding his hand over her mouth, she testified.

She resisted her attacker, and he failed to rape her.

The convicting evidence included the girl's mother testifying she heard noises coming from the back of mobile home lot 96 and, checking on the noise, she saw her daughter on the ground, saw Flores on top of her, and saw Flores with his pants down.

Clayton County Police detectives found one of Flores' white socks on lot 96.

Both the mother and daughter, originally from Mexico and living in the mobile home park on Tara Boulevard, identified the man through a photographic line- up.

Judge Simmons told Flores he disagreed with him about the amount of evidence. "I'm very concerned about your conduct," the judge said. "I'm very concerned about someone who would jump out of the bushes and drag a 12-year-old girl into the bushes in order to force himself upon her."

The girl's mother and father told Assistant District Attorney Bill Dixon, through a Spanish translator, that the event changed her.

"She's angry," they said to Dixon. "She's not happy and lighthearted like she was."

At the end of the trial, last week, when the girl was given a chance to state how the attack has impacted her life, she used the opportunity to express gratitude.

"Thank you for helping me," she said.

Her mother, echoing the girl's words, also thanked the police, the district attorney's office and the court.

"Thank you for giving us justice," the mother said, "because, if this was in Mexico, we would not have gotten justice."

Judge Simmons sentenced the 20-year-old to 20 years in prison, to be followed by 20 years of probation. Flores will have to register as a sex offender and go through counseling, as part of his probation.

Flores said he will appeal the verdict and ask for a different lawyer.