Public defenders representing a convicted sex offender on new child sex charges told jurors this week that their client was innocent.
In a 15-minute opening statement on Monday, Jan. 12, public defender Kenneth Pace told a jury of 14 that his client, Andrew Allmon, 55, of Cortez was not guilty of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl in the summer of 2013. He claimed family conflicts left the alleged victim and her sisters neglected, and the children fabricated the allegations for attention.
“Children sometimes lie,” Pace told jurors.
Pace asked jurors to examine the accusations in their full context, and further encouraged them not to prejudge his client, who authorities have labeled a “predator, pedophile and sex offender” since a 2008 false imprisonment conviction in New Mexico.
“There are red flags everywhere,” Pace told jurors. “Look at all the red flags.”
“Mr. Allmon’s actions were not deviant,” Pace said. “He didn’t prey on the kids.”
In custody since his arrest, Allmon has appeared in court this week dressed in plain clothes.
In his 10-minute opening statement to jurors on Monday, Assistant District Attorney Sean Murray said the defendant was guilty. Allmon is accused of nine counts of child sexual assault and four drug charges.
Using a slideshow presentation, Murray explained that a family with three daughters experiencing hard economic times was invited to live in Allmon’s home on North State Street in April 2013.
“Mr. Allmon developed close relationships with the girls,” said Murray.
Murray said testimony from the only eyewitness, the alleged victim’s older sister, would reveal that the defendant molested the girl while watching cartoons together on his bed.
“His hands were inside the girl’s pants,” said Murray.
Murray added that the victims from the defendant’s 2008 New Mexico conviction would also testify at trial this week to bolster the prosecution’s case.
“You are the clue finders that will discern what happened,” Murray told jurors.
The first witness to testify at Allmon’s trial was the mother of the alleged victim. On the stand for more than two hours, the woman’s hand shook uncontrollably when she was sworn under oath.
On direct examination by District Attorney Will Furse, the mother testified that the defendant inappropriately touched her then 8-year-old daughter in a sexual manner on June 17, 2013.
“(Allmon) had a look of guilt all over him like he knew he had been caught,” the mother testified.
To protect the alleged victim’s identity, The Cortez Journal opted not to publicize the mother’s name.
The mother explained that she, her husband and three daughters, now 17, 15 and 10, moved into Allmon’s home after the family experienced tough economic times
“He was good to the family,” said the mother regarding Allmon. “We trusted him.”
After learning from her middle child that Allmon was “messing” with her youngest daughter, the mother said she was shocked.
On cross-examination, the mother said that the alleged victim initially denied the allegations, adding she was never alarmed by any change in the child’s demeanor or behavior.
“She was a happy kid,” the mother testified.
After learning of Allmon’s 2008 sex offender conviction, the mother further testified that the family decided to remain at the suspect’s home. She also said the family never called 911 to report the incident.
The defense also attacked the mother’s credibility as she admitted that she once made false accusations against her husband.
Also testifying on Monday was the now 10-year-old alleged victim. With her hair in a ponytail, she showed little emotion from the witness stand when describing the alleged sexual abuse.
“He was touching me in my bad spot,” the girl testified.
On cross-examination, the girl admitted she would sometimes lie in order avoid getting in trouble with her parents. The girl further stated that she had practiced her testimony with her parents and prosecutors, saying the repetition made it easier to remember.
The middle child – the only eyewitness to the alleged crimes – also testified on Monday. She stated that she discovered Allmon, whom she sometimes referred to as “Uncle Andy,” on top of her younger sister on the day in question.
“I seen Andy’s hand with my little sister’s hand in his pants,” the girl said on direct-examination.
At times appearing disinterested in the proceedings, the girl later admitted on cross-examination that she too once lied to authorities about a plot by her father to kill her mother. Charges remain pending against the father, the girl confirmed.
Citing she had tried to erase the incident from her memory, the eyewitness further revealed that she didn’t “exactly remember” what she saw on the day in question. She also admitted that her trial testimony was different from what she initially told a social worker the day after the alleged crimes.
“I’m ready for this to be over,” she testified.
Mostly from defense attorneys, more than three dozen objections were raised during proceedings on Monday. Public defender Amy R. Smith made multiple objections over claims that prosecutors were “reading grand jury testimony into evidence.” She subsequently requested a mistrial after Chief District Court Judge Doug Walker admonished her in front of the jury.
“The courts displeasure with the defense are the repeated objections,” said Walker. “The motion for a mistrial is denied.”