Alpine Man Pleads Guilty to Sex with Stepsister
Monday morning, at the Tom Green County Courthouse, Jonathan Portillo, 23, pleaded guilty to four counts of indecency with a child in Judge Barbara Walther’s 51st district court. Portillo’s alleged crime involved sexual relations with his stepsister.
When Walther asked Portillo how he pleaded to each of the charges against him, Portillo said “I’m guilty, your honor.”
Originally, Portillo had signed a confession to the crime.
“This is all the evidence any judge needs to find you guilty,” Walther told the 23-year-old.
Alpine Police Department Captain Darrell Losoya was Assistant District Attorney Jason Ferguson’s first and only witness. Losoya said he has known Portillo personally for “almost all his life.”
Losoya had interviewed Portillo at the police station when the defendant confessed to the crimes. Losoya said the suspect was “very apologetic” and open about the incident. The confession was also recorded and reviewed privately by the judge.
The witness was passed to defense attorney Steve Spurgin. Through his questioning, Losoya clarified that the defendant’s report was corroborated by the child in question’s testimony, and that the incident may have been unlawful, but it was consensual.
Spurgin then called Portillo’s mother, Anna Ybarra, to the stand. Ybarra said Portillo had participated in several special education classes, and had received a high school diploma. She said her son was not a bad man, but he had made a bad choice. Portillo’s mother and several of the defendant’s other acquaintances shed many tears throughout the proceedings.
The defendant’s stepmother and mother of the victim, Mandy Portillo, also took the stand. She was not subpoenaed for the trial; instead, she volunteered to testify on Jonathan’s behalf.
She said, “I believe [Jonathan Portillo] deserves a second chance.”
The victim was also present in the courtroom.
Before Walther made her decision, the prosecution and defense each made their final remarks. Assistant D.A. Ferguson pointed out that the victim was 14 at the time of the crime and Jonathan Portillo was 22; he said the gap between the ages is “substantial.” To put the situation in perspective, Ferguson said, in his case, that gap would be the difference between law school and 8th grade.
He acknowledged the defense’s argument that the sex was consensual, but it's still illegal.
“The whole point of the law is that the minor cannot give consent,” Ferguson stated. He also said the State offers deferred adjudication “when we have to, not because we want to.” He claimed that that kind of sentencing should only be used when there’s lack of evidence, or an issue with the witness. Furthermore, Ferguson said the evidence against Portillo was “rock solid.”
Spurgin began his final remarks by stating that the State’s case is strong because of the defendant’s confession. Spurgin said that if Portillo is placed on probation, secrets get out quickly in a small town like Alpine, Portillo’s current town of residence. He claimed that Portillo “is not going to be able to hiccup” without the public knowing it.
Spurgin claimed that Portillo is already on the path to turning his life around. Any probation sentence, Spurgin said, would involve intensive counseling. In regards to the handful of family and friends present at Portillo’s hearing, Spurgin said, “Everybody [who] knows him thinks he deserves a second chance.”
He added that it is rare for the mother of a victim to ask the judge to give the accused a second chance. Spurgin also claimed that the probation officer had recommended probation in his report.
In the end, Judge Walther sentenced Portillo to 10 years of deferred adjudication. His probation will likely be transferred to Alpine.
For more about Portillo’s case, take a look at San Angelo LIVE!’s previous article.