A defense attorney argued that jurors could take his client’s word he didn’t sexually abuse a girl. It took the panel less than an hour to decide they couldn’t.
The Gainesville man was sentenced to life in prison Friday in Hall County Superior Court.
Gabriel Angel Camacho, who is from Cuba, according to court records, was convicted of two counts of aggravated child molestation and four counts of child molestation. The 52-year-old was accused of molesting a 7-year-old girl at his residence during a period from May 2011 to October 2012, although exact dates are not specified. He was arrested in November 2012.
The trial, which began May 19 in Judge Kathlene Gosselin’s courtroom, was not without drama. Proceedings in the case ended early on one of the four days of testimony when Camacho collapsed shortly after the state began playing the victim’s forensic interview to jurors.
Camacho, represented by Gainesville attorney Dan Sammons, testified in his defense that he had not had inappropriate contact with the victim, and Sammons asked in his closing arguments for jurors to believe Camacho’s account.
“When you find yourself in this situation, often, good character is all you’ve got. ‘I didn’t do it.’ There was nobody there that saw it go on, ‘I didn’t do it,’” Sammons said.
Sammons also said the investigation, led by the Gainesville Police Department, had been both inadequate and inconclusive, returning no physical evidence of sexual abuse.
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson said in response that most sexual abuse cases lack physical evidence, citing testimony from medical experts.
“The body heals. This should not trip y’all up,” she said. “Remember what the expert told you.”
Camacho had implied the victim’s testimony was coerced by a bitter ex-wife, and Robertson said Camacho had “slung all this mud” toward his ex-wife as part of his defense. But the assertion didn’t rebut the molestation accusation based on the timeline of his divorce and when the victim had disclosed being abused, she said.
“He wants you to think she did all of this, is holding onto this two years later, just out of spite,” Robertson said. “She had plenty of opportunities to take him down in the past if she wanted to.”
The judge also sentenced Camacho to 20 years of probation, consecutive to the life sentence. Camacho will be eligible for parole after 30 years in custody.