HOUSTON – Two Houston men were convicted of rape and robbery of a woman in Sharpstown in 2017, Harris County prosecutors said on Saturday.
On Wednesday, a Harris County jury sentenced 42-year-old Martin Cruz to 30 years in prison after a week-long trial. Cruz was convicted of grave abduction and guilty of abducting the woman at gunpoint in front of an apartment complex in southwest Houston.
During the trial, the jury heard that Cruz and accomplice Ricardo Matilde-Silvas, 34, approached the victim on March 16, 2017 and forced them into their vehicle at gunpoint. She was sexually assaulted in the car while she was forced to wear a jacket over her head, prosecutors said. The couple then took the woman to an ATM where she withdrew $ 300 in cash. The men then took the woman back to Cruz’s home, where she was sexually assaulted again. After the attack, she convinced the men to release her and immediately contacted the Houston police.
At the beginning of the year, according to the public prosecutor, Matilde-Silvas pleaded guilty in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence for serious sexual assault.
“No one should go through an accidental act of violence like this, and my heart goes out to the victim,” the Harris County, Ogg district attorney said in a statement. “She was terrorized and traumatized and still had the presence of mind to get away and seek justice.”
Assistant District Attorney Kim Nwabeke, who handled the case with ADA Attorney Chris Handley, told jurors during the trial that the victim had lived through her own horror story and came out stronger.
“She experienced the worst nightmare of any young woman when she was picked up by the monster next door at night,” Nwabeke said in a statement. “Now she has turned tragedy into strength and is working to empower other survivors to speak out.”
The case has been investigated by the Houston Police Department and prosecuted by the Harris County Sex Crimes Department.
“We thank the jury for their service and the prosecutors and police in this case for their work to ensure justice is done to the victim and our entire community,” Ogg said. “We are grateful to you.”
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