A Santa Ana man was convicted today of breaking into five Orange County homes to touch women as they slept and sexually assaulting two girls, ages 11 and 13.
Jurors deliberated for about a day before convicting Roberto Jacobo Reyes, 49, of one count of forcible lewd act on a child younger than 14, two felony counts of lewd acts on a child younger than 14 and three felony counts of first-degree residential burglary.
Jurors also found true sentencing enhancement allegations for committing lewd acts during a residential burglary and a 2003 prior strike for residential burglary.
Reyes, who is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 25, faces up to 194 years to life in prison.
“I’d rather die than be stuck in jail for 25 years,” Reyes said through a translator as Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey was leaving the bench.
Reyes’ attorney, Dolores Yost of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, said Reyes’ son died of cancer while he was in custody.
The prosecutor on the case said Reyes’ behavior escalated and that the defendant was justly convicted.
“A serial child molester is off the streets. That’s always a good thing,” Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman said after the verdicts were announced, “it was a just verdict.”
At about 11 p.m., Feb. 9, 2010, Reyes broke into the Santa Ana bedroom of an 11-year-old girl and held her down, covering her mouth as he fondled her, according to Mestman.
When the girl managed to wriggle free, the defendant fled back out the window, Mestman said.
Investigators found a match for Reyes’ DNA in the home, Mestman said.
Reyes’ DNA was in the system as a result of the 2003 incident, which was also a break-in to touch a female; but the victim woke up and he fled, Mestman said.
At about 1 a.m., Jan. 24, 2010, Reyes broke into the home of a slumbering 13-year-old girl and rubbed her body, Mestman said. When the girl awoke and screamed, Reyes ran out a back door, Mestman said.
The previous year, he had reached through a window and touched the foot of a 22-year-old woman and had broken into the bedroom of a 19-year-old woman, both in Santa Ana, according to Mestman. He had also entered the bedroom a seven-year-old girl shared with two younger siblings and tickled her, according to Mestman.
Reyes served four years in prison for the 2003 conviction and was deported to Mexico, Mestman said. Reyes returned to the U.S. illegally, the prosecutor added.
Yost argued that Reyes did not commit four of the burglaries for his sexual arousal.
When questioned by police about one of the break-ins, Reyes said he had done others, but not for sexual reasons, which prompted investigators to widen their probe, Mestman said.