First jury trial in Ford County since pandemic concludes

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe

After a five-day jury trial, Jesus J. Hernandez, 21, was found not guilty on charges of rape, aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated solicitation of a child, from an alleged incident that occurred on Aug. 27, 2018 which led to his arrest on Aug. 31, 2018.

Hernandez was 18 at the time of his arrest.

Ford County District Judge Sidney R. Thomas presided over the case, according to case action items.

According to defense attorney Van Hampton, the case was concluded on Friday, June 11 when the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty on all three counts.

The trial had been set to begin in March 2020 but a continuance was made due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the courts.

The trial had become the first jury trial to have taken place in Ford County since the 2020 pandemic, according to Hampton.

"A young man had his life given back to him," said Hampton. "He was facing life in prison and now he can go on with his life and accomplish his dreams of getting a college education and pursuing a career."

According to Ford County Attorney Kevin Salzman, the jury deliberated for 45 minutes before the verdict was reached.

"The State greatly values the attention the jury gave to the witnesses and evidence presented over the course of the trial," said Salzman. "Cases involving allegations such as the ones presented in this matter are never easy to listen to or decide, but the State appreciates the jury’s work in arriving at a verdict and providing finality to this case.

"Because the jury found Mr. Hernandez not guilty, there is no more investigation or prosecution that can take place. The State is not able to retry Mr. Hernandez for any crimes relating to the incident for which he was just tried."

To contact the writer email vmarshall@gannett.com