Update: The verdict is in for Christian River Bolding, 21, of Flowery Branch, Justin Eugene-Ty Sutton, 22, of Gainesville, and Laura Solano-Mota, 30, of Gainesville.
Previous story: Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler painted a picture for the jury of a 20-year-old woman staying in a Motel 6 shower for more than an hour, terrified to walk out and unaware if her alleged assailants were still there.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you believe what (the alleged victim) said, that’s all the evidence that you need,” Buckler said. “You can hold these three accountable and convict them for what they’ve done.”
The jury entered deliberations after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, in the trial for Christian River Bolding, 21, of Flowery Branch, Justin Eugene-Ty Sutton, 22, of Gainesville, and Laura Solano-Mota, 30, of Gainesville.
Sutton and Bolding are each charged with rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault, armed robbery and false imprisonment.
A fourth co-defendant, Emily Yulissa Vazquez, 21, of Gainesville, pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution late Tuesday. Vazquez and Solano-Mota were each charged with robbery and false imprisonment.
The now 22-year-old woman testified Tuesday, Jan. 26, before Superior Court Judge Bonnie Oliver about being beaten May 8, 2020, at the Motel 6 off of Athens Highway and then being sexually assaulted by Sutton and Bolding.
The four co-defendants were accused of taking the woman’s car, wallet, phone and watch.
Solano-Mota’s defense attorney Kyle Denslow said the jury would be allowed to consider a lesser charge of theft in lieu of the robbery.
Denslow’s defense was to prove that Solano-Mota was not involved in the beating and unaware of what would happen in that motel room. Denslow argued the prosecution was lumping all three defendants together.
“Believe (the alleged victim). Believe her when she says that she was assaulted,” Denslow said.
“Believe her when she says she was beaten. Believe her, but you also have to believe her when she says that Laura Solano-Mota didn’t touch her — that she recalled — didn’t threaten her and was just standing in the background.”
Attorneys Jake Shapiro and Jason Wilson, representing Sutton and Bolding, respectively, have tried to prove there was transactional consensual sex for drugs.
“None of us know exactly what happened in that room, but there is something called addiction,” Shapiro said during closing arguments. “And people who are addicted, they might fight. They might do these things and still willingly trade sex for drugs.”
Buckler said the jury saw “why it is that even adult women do not like to talk about this, do not like to make outcries about what happens in cases like this.”
“What I didn’t tell you was that you were going to see a victim of rape be absolutely accused of everything under the sun and basically told that what happened to her was her fault,” Buckler said.
‘This isn’t a fair fight’
Buckler continually referenced Vazquez’s testimony from Tuesday in his closing argument.
On Tuesday, Vazquez said she was a frequent user of synthetic marijuana and meth, often causing her to lash out.
She said she was familiar with the alleged victim in the case and originally got along well with her, but Vazquez was not happy that she was at the motel.
Vazquez said Sutton and Bolding talked with the woman outside.
“Then Justin comes in and says, ‘I let her know that you’re either going to want to talk to her or you’re going to want to fight her,’” Vazquez testified.
Vazquez said she punched the alleged victim and Sutton joined in for a beating that went on for roughly 10 minutes.
“This isn’t a fair fight,” Buckler said during closing arguments. “This is (the alleged victim) being attacked by multiple people, OK, and she goes down. She covers herself. She balls up.”
Vazquez said Tuesday that she “humiliated” the woman and made her take off everything.
“What did you say to her? How did you tell her to make her take her clothes off?” Buckler asked
“I told her that if she wanted to be a ho that I would treat her exactly how hoes are treated,” Vazquez replied.
Vazquez testified that Sutton took the woman’s ID and took a picture of it.
“If she called the authorities or did anything stupid, (Sutton threatened) that he would find her, kill her, rape her and her family,” Vazquez said.
“How did (she) react to that?” Buckler asked.
“She was crying,” Vazquez said.
Buckler told the jury to not fall under the impression that any of the co-defendants were merely present and not involved in the assault.
“You guys saw the video. … Once that beating started, I never saw anybody running out of there,” the prosecutor said.
The issue of consent is crucial in the rape and aggravated sodomy charges alleged against Sutton and Bolding.
Concerning consent, Buckler reminded the jury of the defendants scrubbing the motel room and leaving in an allegedly stolen car despite having rented the room for the night.
Buckler said the defense’s references to the alleged victim’s drug addiction and claims she was there to have sex for drugs was an effort to make the jury see her as “somebody who is not to be believed, who is not to be protected.”
“It’s the oldest, absolutely oldest defense there is,” Buckler said. “It’s just (to) put the victim on trial.”
During his closing argument, Wilson referenced how Bolding is charged in the indictment individually and as a party to the offenses
“‘Party to a crime’ is always something that prosecutors love to throw out there, because it’s a good way to just get a large group of people without having necessarily (proven) anything against most of them,” Wilson said.
Oliver told the jury to return to deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 27.