ALAMOSA — District Judge Michael Gonzales on Friday afternoon sentenced Adam Acosta, 40, to a total of 27 years to life in prison on multiple charges including sexual assault on a child.
A jury found Acosta guilty of five felony counts in relation to the sex assault case: sexual assault on a child; sexual assault on a child-threat of retaliation; sexual assault on a child-pattern of abuse; sexual assault on a child by a person in position of trust; and sexual assault by a person in a position of trust-pattern of abuse.
Judge Gonzales sentenced Acosta to eight years to life in prison on the first sexual assault on a child charge and 12 years to life in prison on the other sexual assault charges in that case.
In addition to the sex assault on a child case, Acosta was sentenced on a third-degree assault case involving an altercation in the county jail and a case in which Acosta pleaded guilty to felony second-degree burglary, entering his former girlfriend’s home without permission and violating a restraining order stemming from the sex assault on a child case.
Earlier on Friday he was sentenced to 7 1/2 years on another assault charge. Judge Gonzales also pointed to Acosta’s previous criminal record, which he called “horrible” and included five prior felony convictions on drug, weapon possession and burglary charges.
Regarding the sex assault case, the judge said he heard the testimony of the victim, who was 8 at the time of the incident.
“She said what had to be said,” the judge said. The victim testified about how Acosta touched her and took advantage of her.
“I listened to her,” the judge added.
He said he and the jury did not see any reason that the victim would be making this up.
“She never wavered … She never changed her story … I know when I listened to that young lady testify there was no reason for me not to believe what she said.”
Judge Gonzales said he also did not doubt what Acosta’s family wrote and said in court on his behalf, and it was evident his family supported and loved him.
However, the judge added, Acosts was responsible for taking away the innocence of the young victim.
“You harmed and hurt her in ways that can never be overcome,” the judge told Acosta. She and her mother will deal with the repercussions of this for the rest of their lives, he added, and no sentence can make up for that.
District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen told the judge the victim and her family were not present for the sentencing, although they had a constitutional right to be, because they were too afraid of retaliation.
Referring to the burglary case, Newmyer-Olsen said the victim “couldn’t exercise her constitutional right to be present because she is fearful for her safety. It is too dangerous for her to come and be here and exercise her right.”
The DA added that the victim had to move because of threats and retaliatory actions, such as a firebomb thrown into her living room where children were sleeping, her truck being stolen and Acosta’s family members driving by her residence, following her around town and verbally threatening her.
The victim had to leave her home, her family and friends, endure harassment and threats and raise a child who was emotionally shattered as a result of Acosta’s actions, Newmyer-Olsen said.
The DA added that the child victim has had to experience something no child should have to, and was threatened she would be hurt or killed if she told anybody.
“She will deal with this for the rest of her life,” Newmyer-Olsen said.
Public Defender Kate Mattern said the incidents such as the firebomb and truck theft could not be proven to be related to the case and could not be attributed to Acosta himself since he was incarcerated when they occurred.
Mattern said Acosta was more than his criminal record or what the evidence in this case presented.
“He’s more than the bad decisions he’s made in his life,” she said.
Mattern said Aocsta had had a positive impact on his family and on the community and had made positive changes in his life before he was taken into custody. He had a job, for example, where he was one of the top salesmen, and his boss said he would take him back anytime if that were possible.
She said Acosta’s family stands behind him and believes in him. Mattern added that Acosta grew up with an abusive father and became involved in substance abuse, but he has overcome that.
In addition to letters sent to the judge on Acosta’s behalf, two people spoke at his sentencing hearing. Nadine Montoya, with whom Acosta has a daughter, told the judge Acosta was a great father to their daughter and had helped her raise her older daughter as well. She said she had no concerns about Acosta having contact with his daughter.
Anna Acosta, Adam’s older sister, spoke on behalf of his five siblings, who were present, and their mother, who was also present. She said her brother was a loving and caring person who had made mistakes and became addicted to drugs but was not a bad person. He was making progress, working two jobs and spending more time with family when these recent charges arose, she said.
She added that even though a jury found her brother guilty, she and the other family members believed he was innocent.
On the jail assault charge, Acosta pleaded on Friday to a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge, with other charges dismissed, for an October 15, 2016, incident in the jail in which Acosta punched fellow inmate Nathaniel Ferrell multiple times after Ferrell refused to follow an order from Acosta to clean up a mess, Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge. Judge Gonzales sentenced Acosta to one year in the county jail on that charge to be served concurrent to his other sentences.
Regarding the burglary/restraining order violation case, Acosta’s attorney on that matter, Public Defender Amanda Hopkins told the judge Acosta went to the residence he had previously shared with the victim at a time when he thought she would be at work so he could retrieve his belongings. Alerted that he was there, the victim arrived, and admittedly things got out of control, Hopkins said.
“It was not his intention to violate the protection order,” she said. “All he wanted to do was get his stuff back.”
Hopkins asked for a concurrent sentence on that case.
Judge Gonzales said Acosta was on parole at the time of the burglary case, so that constituted an aggravating factor, which required him to sentence Acosta to at least four years. The judge said Acosta went to his ex girlfriend’s home even though he knew a restraining order was in place, and when he encountered her there, “chaos ensued,” and Acosta became physically violent with her.
Judge Gonzales sentenced Acosta to 7 1/2 years in the Department of Corrections on that case, to be served consecutively to his other sentences.