PORT ANGELES — Martin C. Perez has been exonerated of rape and assault charges more than nine months after his arrest.
Perez, 40, of Forks was charged last September with first- and second-degree rape and second-degree assault for an alleged attack on a 45-year-old woman at his job site near Forks.
A Clallam County jury was unable to reach a verdict in Perez’s first trial in March. A second trial had been scheduled for this week.
Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy moved to dismiss the charges last Friday. Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour signed an order dismissing the case that same day.
“I’m glad my husband is cleared of his charges,” said Mamie Perez, Martin’s wife, in a telephone interview.
Kennedy, the trial attorney, said he and defense attorney John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender were unable to reach a settlement after the trial.
Mamie Perez said her husband was unwilling to take a plea deal.
“The only plea agreement was going to be they dismiss,” Hayden said Thursday. “We never proposed a plea agreement of any sort.”
At trial, Hayden argued that the physical evidence did not support the alleged victim’s testimony and that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a rape or assault occurred last Sept. 6.
“I thought the evidence was astoundingly weak,” Hayden said.
“In fact, the evidence that mitigated in favor of my client’s innocence was strong.”
Kennedy said a majority of the jury members he polled after the trial said they were leaning toward an acquittal.
“Given the feedback that we had, I don’t think there was enough there to really be able to conclusively surmount that,” Kennedy said Wednesday.
“As we kept going over the evidence, it looked like were headed towards another hung verdict.”
“It’s frustrating,” Kennedy added. “It truly is. But we just can’t hold someone in [jail] forever.”
Martin Perez was booked into the Clallam County last Sept. 6. He was exonerated of his $25,000 bail Friday.
“We argued vigorously to have him released, and it didn’t happen,” Hayden said.
Martin Perez relied on the services of a Mam interpreter at trial and in his other court proceedings.
“He’s trying to put his life back together,” Mamie Perez said Tuesday. “It’s been a struggle.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].