A Gainesville man was found guilty Wednesday in the attempted sexual assault of a woman at an Atlanta Highway business.
Devin Ignacio Segura, 21, was convicted of criminal attempt to commit rape, criminal intent to commit aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault, battery and simple battery after two days of testimony and about four hours of deliberation by a Hall County jury.
Segura was sentenced to 18 years in prison and two years’ probation by Hall County Senior Superior Court Judge John Girardeau.
On Nov. 27, Segura made lewd comments to the woman, working alone in a store, before assaulting her. The victim said the attacker pulled her hair and scratched and threw hot tea on her face as he tried to pull her clothes off.
While Segura’s defense attorney did not dispute the assault itself, he argued Segura had been wrongly accused.
“There is somebody walking around Atlanta Highway terrorizing women,” Hall County public defender Travis Williams said. “ ... There is somebody who looks like Devin Segura doing inappropriate things to women on Atlanta Highway, but it’s not Devin Segura.”
Williams said witness descriptions of the suspect’s clothes, features and injuries did not match Segura, asserting investigators failed to pursue another lead once Segura was named a person of interest.
“They didn’t want to get it right. They had no concern,” Williams said. “They had a suspect and they were going to move forward regardless of the proof available.”
The state’s prosecutor, Jennifer Bagwell, countered that the identifications reliably pointed to Segura and police had waited to arrest him until they were more certain.
“They’re arguing to you that this is just some rush to judgement, just ... ‘We think we’ve got him now, we’re satisfied and we’re not going to look any further’ — he wasn’t even under arrest at that time,” she said, noting Segura was arrested after a photo lineup identification.
“This is no rush to judgement,” she added.
Williams made a motion to declare a mistrial as the state concluded closing arguments, asserting Bagwell had alluded to Segura’s criminal history when she said, “Let’s make sure he stays where he belongs this time.”
Girardeau overruled the motion.
Segura, a California native, carries a record in Hall County dating to 2009. He pleaded guilty to criminal trespass, theft and obstruction in 2009. He pleaded guilty to obstruction again in 2010 and riot stemming from a jail fight in 2011. In 2012 he pleaded guilty to battery and disorderly conduct.
A note on his record by law enforcement stated he was a member of the gang North Side 43, also known as the Norteños.
Seated with an interpreter and investigator from the public defender’s office, Segura put his head on the table throughout most of the closing arguments.
“Mr. Segura is not the sympathetic figure in this case that I would like him to be,” Williams said. “Unfortunately that’s not his demeanor.”
He told jurors the state’s dismissal of a sexual battery charge prior to deliberation amounted to the state “doing half of the job for them.”
Bagwell countered that the crimes before jurors’ consideration had the elements and intent proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Let’s protect the women of Atlanta Highway and the women of this community,” Bagwell said, noting what could have happened during the crime. “She fought him. She didn’t just fight him, she bit him. But for the bravery and wits of this victim ... we’d be here and I’d be arguing aggravated sodomy.”