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Saturday, June 23, 2012 - Page updated at 06:00 p.m.

Man sentenced to at least 25 years for Shoreline rape

By Sara Jean Green
Seattle Times staff reporter

The mother of a 12-year-old girl could be heard quietly crying over a speakerphone as a Korean interpreter read aloud in court a letter she wrote, detailing the nightmare the woman and her daughter have endured since Jesse Ryan Gonzales sneaked into their Shoreline apartment and raped the girl in her bedroom in December.

Gonzales, 38, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree rape and first-degree burglary. Though he faced a standard sentence of about 15 to 19 years for the rape, Gonzales was sentenced Friday to a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison by King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson, due to the young age of his victim.

Since the girl was younger than 15 at the time of the assault, Gonzales' sentence can be extended up to life in prison by the state Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board if he is deemed more likely than not to commit another sex crime if released. Should he be released, Robinson ordered Gonzales to register as a sex offender for life.

In her letter, the woman recalled seeing her daughter run out of their apartment building "like a mad girl," and then watching Gonzales, his jacket pulled up to conceal his face, walk out and disappear into the night.

Before exiting the family's home, "he used the bathroom upstairs, and I wonder what he was thinking as he washed his bloody hands," court interpreter Byung Song said, reading from the woman's letter.

The family disposed of the girl's bedroom furniture because it reminded her of the attack, and the girl remains fearful and can no longer sleep unless a light is left on, the mother said in her letter.

Typically, the girl's uncle baby-sat her and her younger sisters until their mother returned from work, but on the night of the assault, he left early and the mother arrived late, according to court documents.

At a time when no adults were present, Gonzales — who lived nearby — entered the home's unlocked front door and raped the victim early Dec. 4. The mother returned home, found the door locked and rang the bell; the girl was able to escape after convincing Gonzales her mother would find it suspicious if she didn't open the door, the records say.

The Seattle Times, which does not typically identify sexual-assault victims, is not naming the mother in order to protect her daughter's identity.

Gonzales — who is also known as Jesse Guerten — was arrested a few days later after a palm print, lifted from a glass-surfaced vanity in the girl's room, was compared with 350,000 handprints in the King County Regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System, according to court records. The print came back as a match to a handprint Gonzales provided after a 2006 arrest for driving with a suspended license.

Last week, Gonzales filed handwritten motions seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming his defense attorney told him he would serve 13 or 14 years in prison, instead of the mandatory minimum of 25 years, court records show. He said he drank eight 24-ounce beers and smoked meth and spice, or synthetic marijuana, on the night he attacked the girl, according to his court filings.

His mother, aunt and uncle also wrote letters to the judge, blaming Gonzales' drinking and drug use for the rape. They claimed he struggles with depression and anxiety, and they argued he didn't deserve such a harsh punishment, according to court records.

Gonzales withdrew his motion Friday, and Robinson went forward with sentencing. None of his relatives were present in court.

He told the judge he had been sober for 15 months before mixing booze with meth and spice on the night of the attack.

"Words can't describe how sorry I am," said Gonzales, adding, "I had no intentions on hurting nobody."

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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