Salvador Cruz, the alleged child rapist who is representing himself in court, is continuing to question witnesses today. Prosecutors are dismissing the charges relating to the young woman who ran up to the courthouse roof last week rather than be questioned by the man said to have abused her. While it's ironic that he's getting off on those charges because of her apparently continuing trauma, Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecutor's office, explains that the woman won't now have to take the stand.
Three other alleged victims will, however.The case against Cruz (pictured above) concerns two pairs of sisters. One of the girls was only 8 years old when Cruz started molesting her in the early '90s, according to court documents. Now 21, she's the child of Cruz's girlfriend at the time and the younger sister of the woman who threatened to jump off the roof. Identified as J.C. in court documents, the 21-year-old was as a child so scared of Cruz that she took to hiding under the bed when left alone with him in the family's Redmond apartment, according to the prosecutor's trial memo.
J.C. is scheduled to testify today once Cruz finishes cross-examining her mother.
Judging by Cruz' performance in court this morning, that may take a while. Holding a huge sheaf of papers, and using two Spanish-language interpreters to help him ask questions, the 40-year-old defendant made slow progress. (Cruz is a Mexican native who returned to his homeland for 10 years before reentering this country in 2008 and landing in police custody.) He went line by line through the transcript of an interview the mother, V.C., gave to police. His questions made so little sense that prosecutor Val Richey frequently objected and King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North took to giving Cruz lectures on how to proceed.
"You have to ask a question the witness can understand, not just read long sections of the transcript," North admonished. Even reading the transcript, Cruz made mistakes, telling the witness she said something that was not on the page, as the prosecutor pointed out.
V.C. seemed resentful as hell at the whole thing, her face set in a permanent scowl. But she didn't seem scared, despite recurring threats that Cruz allegedly made against her when they were living together, at one point holding a gun to her head. On the stand, Cruz asked her questions referring to himself in the third person, but she pointedly addressed him as "you."
"Didn't I already tell you? I do not remember the dates and times, but you were living with us," she said as Cruz seemed to be trying to get her to admit that they had not shared an apartment for very long, if at all.
An open question is whether her daughter can retain her composure on the stand. "This family is hanging on by a thread," Richey told the judge this morning, requesting that the witnesses not be photographed by the press.
Cruz is also under pressure. Goodhew says his office intends to seek a life sentence should the defendant be found guilty. Prosecutors would be justifying in doing so because of the number of victims in the case, according to Goodhew.
Aside from J.C. and her sister, Cruz is accused of starting a sexual relationship with a girl he met in 1997, when she was 14 and he was 27. He would stay at the girl's house frequently, apparently with the mother's consent, although she said she was not aware that her middle-schooler was having sex with this man, according to court documents. The girl's sister, then 10, told police that Cruz had also been inflicting himself on her.