The jury in the Thomas Acosta sexual abuse trial came in this afternoon with a guilty verdict on one count of sodomy, two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of assault on April Loper, who later died in a car wreck near Eddyville.
The prosecution argued that although April could not be in the courtroom, there was enough evidence from police and medical officials to convict Acosta based on what April told them along with documented bruises and contusions on her body. Also from accounts from Loper’s family as to Loper’s behavior with regard to Acosta.
The case was considered very thin at the outset, in that since the death of Loper in October (the alleged crimes having been committed in late 2011, early 2012) the defendant, Thomas Acosta, could not confront his accuser in court, and that April could not testify on her on her own behalf. Therefore the evidence would be largely hearsay, which is usually inadmissible in court.
However, the prosecution was able to convince the jury that what evidence there was and by looking at the police interview with Thomas Acosta and the way he portrayed his relationship with Loper, that he was guilty of sexual abuse, assault and sodomy.
Loper’s family told News Lincoln County that April’s relationship with Acosta was stormy and that April had told them that she feared him and that he feared for her family’s safety if she didn’t comply with his wishes. On Christmas Eve of 2011, Loper’s family claimed that Acosta kidnapped Loper and took her with him to Redding, CA where her family said Acosta brutally assaulted her. She later escaped her hotel room and ran to the police. The police observed that she was a reported missing person out of Newport and called Newport Police to say they had their missing person.
Loper’s family went down to Redding and picked her up. She was later examined at PCH in Newport and her wounds were documented by medical staff.
In October, Loper and her father were headed west on Highway 20 just east of Eddyville. On a curve, another car crossed over the center line into their lane and hit them head on. Both Loper and her father were killed.
Loper’s aunt, Kathy Wagner of Corvallis, said her niece was a fun loving, free spirited person whose main concern was for others. She said April’s dream was to become a mother, which she became last fall and that “she was thrilled at having her precious baby boy.”
Wagner said she is grateful to the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office for their hard work on the case; fighting an uphill battle with no accuser and scrambling for admissible evidence. “But in the end, justice prevailed,” she said. “I also want to thank the jury for their hard work and clear-mindedness to see their way to the truth in the case,” she added.
Acosta is scheduled to be sentenced February 14th, 1pm, in Judge Thomas Bradford’s courtroom, room 303. Thus far, no word on whether defense attorney Guy Greco will file an appeal.