Jury selection is scheduled to get under way today at the trial of an illegal immigrant accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and trying to kill a 9-year-old Riverside girl and attacking two other young girls.
Jose Wilson Rojas Guzman, 31, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault on a child, rape and multiple other sex-related felonies, as well as sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims and committing a burglary to perpetrate a sexual offense.
Guzman remains held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
Pretrial motions in the case began Friday and prospective jurors will likely be summoned today to the Riverside Hall of Justice for screening as to their qualifications and availability.
Opening arguments in the case could begin by week’s end.
The defendant was arrested on May 16, 2011, in connection with an abduction-assault the week before involving a girl living at an apartment complex in the area of Pike Street and Herman Drive.
According to police, Guzman allegedly broke into a second-story residence and snatched a 9-year-old who was asleep in the same room as her older brother and younger sister. The children’s mother was waitressing at a nearby restaurant at the time.
Guzman entered the apartment through an unlocked window and carried the girl off without awakening her siblings, investigators said. After assaulting the girl and inflicting life-threatening injuries, Guzman dumped her out of his pickup truck on Giles Court, about 2 1/2 miles from where the abduction occurred, according to police.
The disoriented, barely conscious child began randomly knocking on doors, awakening residents, who called 911. She has since recovered from her physical trauma.
Guzman was identified by detectives as a suspect early because he had rented a room in the same apartment a few months earlier but was kicked out by the victim’s mother, police said.
DNA and fingerprint evidence connected the Mexican national to the crime, according to Deputy District Attorney Mike Carney.
Soon after Guzman was arrested, investigators located two other girls who alleged he attacked them in 2008.
In each case, the defendant was acquainted with the children and allegedly cornered them or carried them off, according to Carney.
None of the victims have been publicly identified.
One girl, who was 12 at the time, alleged Guzman held her at gunpoint and molested her, Carney said. The other girl, who was 11, told detectives the defendant choked her and raped her.
The child suffered extensive injuries and required surgery, according to the prosecutor.