Thomas Acosta, convicted of repeated sexual assault and sodomy on April Loper of Toledo, was sentenced today in Circuit Court for a total 8 years and four months in state prison. The charges are both Measure 11 crimes so he is not supposed to be released before his full sentences are served.
District Attorney Rob Bovett told reporters today that it was a difficult case because April could not appear in court to tell her story. She was killed in a traffic accident on Highway 20 east of Eddyville shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin. Her father also perished in the same accident. Special sex crimes prosecutor Alice Vachss said although there was a lot of evidence that was dismissed as hearsay, she said she and Chief Deputy Marsha Buckley was able to get the judge to allow descriptions of April’s behavior, as described by family and friends, at various stages of her stormy relationship with Acosta. Also, testimony was allowed by medical staff at Pacific Communities Hospital as they described April’s wounds after she returned from Redding, CA after having been forced to go there against her will by Acosta. She later escaped and met up with a family member down there who brought her back home and told Newport Police what had happeed to her. Soonafter authorities began assembling a case against Acosta. A week or so later Acosta was in the Lincoln County Jail awaiting trial.
But again, just before the trial began, April and her father were killed in a head-on crash east of Eddyville. It made the prosecution’s case very difficult. Acosta’s defense attorney singled out a lot of evidence that, because it was hearsay and not direct evidence from April, caused the lion’s share of the charges to be dropped, except for six. Acosta was convicted on four, which puts him in prison for nearly 8 and a half years.
Bovett said they were fighting a terrible uphill battle in getting enough evidence deemed admissible to keep the case moving forward. But in the end the jury agreed to convict Acosta on two counts of sexual assault, one count of sodomy and another on assault.
Acosta has a long criminal record in Washington, California, Texas and Nevada for assault, drunk driving and possession of illegal weapons.
Here is a quick chat with the local news media by District Attorney Rob Bovett and sex crimes special prosecutor Alice Vachss after Acosta was led back to his cell in the Lincoln County Jail from where he will soon be transferred to a state prison to serve out his 8 year four month tour. It is a very sincere, heartfelt message to the community about the outcome of the trial and why they worked so hard to see it through.