Crime

Pasco man arrested in child molestation case

A 39-year-old Pasco man was arrested Monday for allegedly inappropriately touching a young girl.

Jose Guadalupe Zazueta-Bueno is being held in the Franklin County jail on $75,000 bail. He made a preliminary appearance Tuesday in Superior Court and was ordered held for investigation of first-degree child molestation.

According to court documents, Franklin County sheriff's detectives initially began investigating the case, but turned it over to Pasco police when they found out the alleged incident occurred in city limits.

Pasco Detective Kirk Nebeker met with the now-teenage girl earlier this month and she disclosed that the sexual contact occurred twice when she was in grade school, documents said.

The girl provided several specific details about what had occurred before Zazueta-Bueno allegedly molested her, and claimed to have told a relative about it later.

The relative told investigators she remembered the girl's story. The girl's mother also told Nebeker that the girl has been going to counseling and the counselor confirmed the same story, documents said.

On Monday, Nebeker detained Zazueta-Bueno and took him to the Pasco police station to be interviewed. Zazueta-Bueno reportedly said he was worried about how the investigation would affect his immigration hearing that he was supposed to have Tuesday in Seattle.

Zazueta-Bueno told investigators that he remembered being confronted by his wife years ago about the allegations, but said he didn't do it.

He denied sexually touching the girl and said he couldn't think of any motive for the girl to make the allegations, documents said.

Zazueta-Bueno was arrested and booked into the Franklin County jail because of a concern that he might try to flee the area.

Prosecutors have until Thursday to charge or release him. If charged, Zazueta-Bueno will be back in court Aug. 7.

Man acquitted in assault back in jail for assault

A 21-year-old Kennewick man acquitted two months ago on an assault charge against rival gang members is back in jail after being accused of hitting one of the same victims in the prior case with a gun and beer bottle.

Stephen Esteras Morfin was arrested Sunday by Pasco police. He is being held in the Franklin County jail on $200,000 bail for investigation of second-degree assault.

Pasco police were called at 1 a.m. Sunday to the area of East Broadway Street and North Oregon Avenue after the victim, Sylvia Guerra, 33, reported she had been assaulted by Morfin, court documents said.

She said Morfin struck her in the arm and back of the head with a beer bottle and chrome semi-automatic pistol, documents said.

Officers saw scratch marks on her arm and a small cut on the back of her head.

Guerra reportedly said she knew Morfin because of her gang ties and an incident in February where she and her daughter had been assaulted by three rival gang members. She said Morfin had a mustache now and was bald, but she knew it was him, documents said.

After being treated for her injuries at Lourdes Medical Center, she told officers that there had been four men in the group and she got hit with the beer bottle and gun, then was kicked several times when she fell to the ground, documents said.

She was crying at times and said she thought she was going to the die, documents said.

Morfin later was contacted by officers, but he refused to give them any statements. He had a mustache like the one Guerra described, documents said.

In May, a Franklin County Superior Court jury deliberated for 45 minutes before returning the innocent verdict in Morfin's first-degree assault with a firearm case.

The defense called no witnesses.

Morfin was accused of being with Isidro Licon and Edgar Alonso Arroyos when they went to a Pasco apartment and got into a fight with Guerra and her 18-year-old daughter, Selina Cortez.

Licon allegedly threw Cortez to the ground, shoved a pistol in her face and threatened to pull the trigger. Her mother tried to stop it but was hit in the face by one of the other men. Licon is facing a first-degree assault charge in that case.

Alonso Arroyos, pleaded guilty in June for his role in the assault and was sentenced. Morfin's lawyer said Morfin was acquitted because there was a lack of evidence tying his client to the crime.

Kennewick man could get life for kidnapping

A 26-year-old Kennewick man could spend the rest of his life in prison after admitting Tuesday to kidnapping his former girlfriend, driving her to Burbank and forcing her to have sex with him last year.

Usiel Chavez-Rios pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and violating a domestic violence no contact order.

Chavez-Rios faces a minimum sentencing range of four years and nine months to six years and three months in prison, and prosecutors say they will recommend the high-end sentence. Chavez-Rios' release, however, will be up to the indeterminate sentencing board once his minimum time is served.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 5.

According to court documents, Chavez-Rios' ex-girlfriend showed up at the Pasco police station around 9:50 p.m. Nov. 18 and reported Chavez-Rios had assaulted her. She said they used to date and live together, but they broke up and he moved out. She got a restraining order against him three days earlier that banned him from being at her Pasco home.

Around 5 p.m. Nov. 18, the victim said she was leaving for work when Chavez-Rios pushed his way into her apartment, bound her hands and feet, armed himself with a large knife and threatened her, documents said.

He then took her to her car, drove to an isolated area in Burbank and forced her to have sex with him while keeping the knife within reach, she said.

She was able to convince him to return to Pasco and eventually removed the bindings on her arms and feet. She then jumped out of the moving car and was helped by a couple who witnessed her jump. They drove her to the police station.

The following day, officers learned the victim's car had been found in Kennewick about an hour after she jumped out of it. It had been set on fire and the inside was destroyed, documents said. Chavez-Rios was arrested in Kennewick on Nov. 20.

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