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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

December 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM

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Guilty verdicts in rape trial interrupted by suicide attempt

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

Salvador Aleman Cruz was found guilty Wednesday afternoon of seven criminal charges stemming from the molestation of four girls more than 10 years ago.

Jurors began deliberating on Wednesday morning and after about three hours announced they had reached a verdict, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office. Cruz, 40, had acted as his own attorney, with the help of two translators.

When the trial started several weeks ago, Cruz was charged with nine felony counts involving five victims. But two charges involving one alleged victim were dropped after the distraught 21-year-old woman climbed to the roof of the King County Courthouse on Nov. 4 and threatened suicide. She was about to testify against Cruz when she made her way to the roof.

The woman did not have to testify once the charges were dropped.

Cruz was accused of molesting the woman and her older sister between 1993 and 1997, according to charging paperwork. Cruz was found guilty of seven criminal counts involving the other victim: Four counts of first-degree child rape, two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. He was also found guilty of six aggravators that will add to his prison sentence.

Dennis McGuire, a defense attorney who was on stand-by in case Cruz needed help, said the conviction essentially means he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

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