FAIRFIELD — A Fairfield man who faces the possibility of prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender was found not guilty Friday of a felony charge of having sex with a minor.
Gabriel A. Hernandez heaved a sigh of relief after hearing the jury verdict that capped a three-day trial. His gratification was not dampened by the jury finding him guilty of a misdemeanor battery charge and deadlocking 10-2 for guilt on two other felony sexual assault charges.
Hernandez, 34, met the victim at the Fairfield library in the summer of 2012. The girl, then 16, was sitting next to Hernandez at a computer. Small talk ended with her phone number, which led to them meeting several times in the upcoming weeks.
The girl’s mother discovered text messages on the girl’s cellphone and the police were called. Detectives interviewed Hernandez before arresting him in November 2012 and he admitted to kissing the girl on their dates, but he denied having sex with her.
Jurors during the trial watched a video recording of the interview.
During the trial, Hernandez’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Tamani Taylor, accused the girl of making up the accusations and lying. Taylor repeatedly pointed to contradictory details the girl gave detectives in three different interviews and during her hours on the witness stand while being questioned by Taylor.
After the verdicts, some jurors said deliberations at times revolved around the question of which of them, Hernandez or the girl, had lied less often.
Hernandez was ordered to return to court Dec. 18 to see if prosecutors intend to seek a second jury trial.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.