SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) – An appellate panel Tuesday reversed a shortened sentence that was given to an Orange County man who sodomized a 3-year-old relative, which at the time sparked international headlines and public rebukes for the judge, who deviated from a state-mandated life term for the defendant.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas appealed Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly’s 10-year sentence for 21-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto. The appeal was transferred to the appellate court in San Diego in September.
Oral arguments were made Jan. 11 and the ruling on the appeal was handed down Tuesday. The details of the ruling were not immediately available, but it appears from the appellate court records that the justices directed a lower court judge to hand down the state-mandated 25 years-to-life sentence.
In April 2015, rather than adhere to the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life or the maximum of 33 years to life for sexual assault, Kelly ruled that it would be cruel and unusual punishment and, therefore, unconstitutional to sentence Rojano to either of the life sentences in this case.
The ruling by Kelly, who has since been moved to Family Law Court in Orange, prompted a recall effort that ultimately failed when organizers could not get enough signatures to get it on the ballot in June.
In December of 2014, Rojano-Nieto was convicted of sodomizing a child younger than 10 and lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. He was playing video games in the garage of his Santa Ana home when the 3-year-old victim, who is a relative, joined him. Rojano then sexually assaulted her.
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