A Kennewick ice cream truck driver maintained his innocence moments before he was sentenced Monday morning to eight months in jail for exposing himself to a teenage girl.
Maximino Castillo-Murcia told the court that his Dec. 2 trial was unfair and he never exposed himself to a then 13-year-old girl from the inside of his ice cream truck.
The 42-year-old cried as he spoke to Judge Carrie Runge in Benton County Superior Court.
"This was a very unjust trial, and I am not in agreement with any (judgment) you will make," he said through an interpreter.
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Castillo-Murcia was convicted by Runge last week of luring, indecent exposure and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes for the April 17 incident at Monopoly Park in east Kennewick. He owns a fleet of trucks that sell snacks around the Tri-Cities.
Castillo-Murcia routinely drove around the Kennewick area, stopping at schools and parks to sell ice cream, candy and chips. He sold the victim snacks on multiple occasions and sometimes gave her free ice cream.
The girl testified that she and her friends spotted Castillo-Murcia's truck, which is decorated with pictures of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet dancing around ice cream, while they were at the park. Two of the friends reportedly went back to their house to get money, leaving the victim and another girl with Castillo-Murcia.
Castillo-Murcia started telling the victim she was pretty and tried to get her into his truck, the girl testified. Castillo-Murcia repeatedly asked her to turn around and wanted the other girl to leave. When the victim looked in the truck's window, she saw Castillo-Murcia's shorts down and that he was touching himself.
When the girl realized he was touching himself, she threw food at the truck and ran to a friend's house.
Castillo-Murcia admits to seeing the girl that day, though he denies asking her to get into his truck or touching himself.
The victim had a crush on his then 19-year-old son and wanted his phone number on the day of the incident, Castillo-Murcia testified. The girl became angry when he wouldn't give it to her. Castillo-Murcia believes the girl told police he exposed himself because he didn't approve of her feelings for his son.
Family and friends spoke to Runge on Castillo-Murcia's behalf before the sentencing. They accused the victim of lying and asked for further investigation.
"It's incredible that all this came because a girl had a crush on my son," Castillo-Murcia's wife said.
Castillo-Murcia's sister claimed the victim is looking for attention.
"No one is exempt from something like this happening when a girl wants to achieve something like this," she said through an interpreter.Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra asked Runge for a "heavy handed" sentence.
Castillo-Murcia abused a position of trust and targeted a vulnerable community with low-income families, Petra said. He used his ice cream truck to prey on a teenage girl and traumatized her so much that she can't be around her own brother without being in fear.
"He is placed in a position of trust in the community," Petra said. "When children hear an ice cream truck, they come running."
Petra recommended eight-month sentences on each conviction and for the sentences to run concurrent with each other.
Castillo-Murcia's attorney, Adrienne Farabee, asked Runge for a three-month sentence. Castillo-Murcia has no felony criminal history.
Runge was concerned with Castillo-Murcia's lack of empathy toward the victim, she said. He was more concerned with how his crimes have affected his family and not the impact they have had on the girl.
Runge told Castillo-Murcia, as she did the day of his trial, that the case came down to her believing the victim's testimony was more credible. She thought Castillo-Murcia confirmed the victim's version of events when he took the stand.
"You ultimately, from my perspective, essentially admitted all of the facts," Runge said.
Runge followed Petra's recommendation and sentenced Castillo-Murcia to eight months in jail. He will have to register as a sex offender once he is released.