Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge David Edwards last week dropped charges against a former serviceman who is accused of having sex with a 12-year-old in March.
Edwards ruled the defense was not adequately prepared for trial because of problems with material that was provided by the prosecution.
Anthony Eloy Perez, 23, was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord when he allegedly met with the girl through the social messaging application KIK. He is accused of having sex with the girl in his car.
Prosecutor Katie Svoboda said the military is still looking to press charges against Perez and that the Prosecutor’s Office will appeal Edwards’ ruling. She said she expects Perez to be taken into military custody after his release from the Grays Harbor County Jail.
Perez was charged with second-degree rape of a child, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Perez’s attorneys argued in a motion to dismiss the case that the prosecution had not provided body camera video of Perez’s arrest in a timely matter and did not disclose records of messages exchanged between Perez and the alleged victim, explicit photographs sent from the suspect to the victim, sexually graphic chats between the two and DNA results.
“Mr. Perez argues that the actions of the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office in failing to provide timely discovery of multiple items constitute discovery violations and governmental misconduct, and that such misconduct severely prejudiced his rights to be adequately prepared for trial and to a speedy trial,” the defense motion reads.
The defense also said the prosecution didn’t facilitate interviews with the alleged victim and her mother in a timely manner.
In its statement, the prosecution said they mistakenly sent the body camera video to Perez's prior attorney, James Foley, and re-sent the items July 2. In regard to sexually explicit photos exchanged between Perez and the victim, the state said the defense needed to arrange a time to view the material at the Sheriff’s Office due to the content of the photos.
In interviews with the victim and her mother, the prosecution stated both provided information consistent with their written statements, with no substantive new information, saying there was no prejudice to the defense on the issue.
The state says DNA evidence regarding the case was sent to the defense July 21, and says the delay was caused by a lack of staffing.
Court documents show the victim’s mother reported her daughter as missing on March 15, telling police she had last seen the 12-year-old around 9:30 p.m. when she went to bed. The girl was found with Perez in Perez’s car in Elma.
The girl’s mother attempted to pull her daughter out of the vehicle, according police accounts, but Perez held the 12-year-old down. A struggle ensued and the girl’s mother struck Perez, court documents state.
After the girl’s mother took her daughter out of the car, police said Perez tried to get into the driver’s seat but the girl’s mother took Perez’s keys and waited for law enforcement to arrive.