Jury finds Buda man guilty in sexual assault, kidnapping trial

James Montoya

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) —

Update at 3:30 p.m.: After four hours of deliberating, the jury found James Montoya guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in 2011. Montoya was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault.

The punishment phase started immediately after and will continue on Friday. Each of the three charges is a first degree felony punishable between five years and life in prison.

Previous story: Day 3 has gotten underway in a trial for a Buda man accused of targeting two women at random and kidnapping and assaulting them. Police say they were able to connect James Montoya, 41, to both sexual assaults through DNA testing. He is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated kidnapping. He was already in the Travis County Jail on separate charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault to an Austin woman in March 2012 when investigators linked him as the suspect in the 2011 San Marcos case.

The jury is now deliberating after closing arguments from both sides wrapped up in the trial, one in which Montoya has pleaded not guilty. During closing arguments, Montoya’s defense attorney ran through the timeline of events the morning of Feb. 8, 2011, saying that the testimonies do not align.

“I’ve never assaulted anyone, but leaving them with means to communicate with law enforcement seems like an unreasonable thing to do,” said Montoya’s defense attorney, referring to how the victim had her cell phone with her when she got out of Montoya’s car after the alleged sexual assault.

The defense attorney says there are enough missing facts to lead to reasonable doubt to acquit, pointing out several factors:

  • 45 minutes between the time the victim left work and the call to 911 was made
  • missing DNA Y-chromosome for vaginal testing
  • physical evidence of sexual assault  and description of events

After the defense wrapped up with closing arguments, prosecutors Brian Erskine and Laura Garcia took the floor — quick to point out that the defense left out key pieces of evidence from the story.

“It’s not any reasonable doubt; it’s reasonable doubt of any of the elements presented,” said the prosecutor, adding that the defense left out that Montoya’s saliva was found on one of the victim’s private areas.

While Montoya chose not to testify, the victim testified on Tuesday. The victim gave an emotional testimony as she relived the events of what happened to her that night. A jury made up of eight men and six women also heard testimony from officers, emergency workers and nurses who cared for the victim four years ago. A nurse who collected evidence also told the jury what the victim told her back in 2011.

The victim said she was headed home to New Braunfels when her car ran out of gas on Interstate 35. As she walked along the highway, she says Montoya offered her a ride to a gas station, but the victim says Montoya instead exited at the Blanco River turn-around and sexually assaulted her.

Montoya is the same man police say sexually assaulted a different woman at South by Southwest in 2012. Authorities said he then took her back to his Buda home and assaulted her again.

Meanwhile, the Hays County District Attorney’s Office says Montoya could face a punishment of life in prison.

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