Judge works to keep sex assault trial on track
April 5, 2018
With a trial looming for a former Minden man accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old, the judge sought to clarify issues raised by the defense.
Juan G. Ramirez-Vargas, 45, is denying charges of sexual assault and lewdness with a child under the age of 14.
"This court is not going to be baited into an error," District Judge Tod Young said.
Young pointed out that Defense Attorney Matthew Ence questioned whether an interpreter was translating correctly and referred to the possibility of an insanity plea.
"That is not my intention," Ence replied.
He said that another attorney, who speaks Spanish, said the interpreter was not correct.
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Young said that during the trial it's his procedure to change out interpreters every 20 minutes so they are not exhausted.
"It is extremely difficult to find interpreters," he said. "Some have indicated they are not coming back to Douglas County."
Young asked Ence if it was his plan to pursue an insanity plea.
The defense attorney answered that he received an email from Lakes Crossing that he hadn't been able to open yet.
He said he would produce motions soon, if it turns out either issue is critical.
Young said the case is very complex and told Ence that if he needs assistance to let him know.
The crime is alleged to have occurred in March 2016 in an Ironwood apartment.
Ramirez-Vargas was the first person indicted by the Douglas County grand jury. He was arrested on March 24, 2017, in Oregon and was brought to Douglas County in April.
His trial is set to begin May 1. Ramirez-Vargas faces life in prison if he is convicted.
■ A Lake Tahoe man reluctantly admitted to being a heroin addict on Tuesday as he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance.
Earl J. Chamberlain III, 32, was arraigned in Douglas County District Court.
Chamberlain is seeking a diversion program, which will allow him to avoid a felony in the case if he's successful.
Because possession is a class E felony, Chamberlain would receive mandatory probation if he fails.
He was arrested during a traffic stop in Stateline on Nov. 3, 2017.
According to court documents, he was a passenger in the vehicle, and had 2 grams of heroin and a pound of marijuana at his feet.
He was ordered to remain in custody until his May 15 sentencing date.