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Jury selection begins in agent's lewd acts trial

April 26, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

Jury selection began Thursday afternoon in the trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of five counts of lewd acts with a minor under age 14.

Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras' courtroom was filled with potential jurors Thursday as the jury selection process began.

Joseph Socorro Olvera, 45, was present with his attorney, Thomas Storey. Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen is prosecuting the case.

Jury selection was not finished Thursday and will resume Monday morning. Contreras was assigned the trial after Superior Court Judge Donald Donnelly, originally assigned to the case, could not preside over it in full.

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Contreras made rulings on some motions filed by both parties Thursday morning.

Owen told Contreras that Storey is seeking to have the psychologist testify that Olvera doesn't not fit the profile of a pedophile. Owen also is seeking to have him evaluated by a psychologist hired by the prosecution.

Contreras ruled if Olvera is evaluated by a psychologist hired by the defense Owen would have the right to have Olvera evaluated by a psychologist hired by the prosecution.

Another motion regarded information Owen was seeking to admit of Olvera allegedly making sexual remarks about a juvenile girl to a colleague. Storey argued the victim's identity is not known and all are simple allegations.

Contreras decided to allow some of that information to be used during the trial, which Owen thinks will be key information in her prosecution.

"I think it will definitely help prove our case because it will help prove his intent," she told a reporter.

She also thinks prosecutors have quite a strong case against Olvera.

"I definitely think the evidence is there to charge him. Ultimately it's the jury that decides," she said.

Owen said if convicted, Olvera could serve three to eight years in prison.

Olvera is alleged to have committed the acts with the daughter of his ex-girlfriend.

The relationship with his ex-girlfriend started in the mid-1990s. Olvera is alleged to have committed the acts with the girl starting when she was in the second grade to March 2001. The girl is now in the seventh grade.

According to earlier reports, some of the acts occurred when the mother and the girl went to visit Olvera when he was training with the Border Patrol outside the Imperial Valley.

The girl finally told her older sister in July about the alleged assaults by Olvera and the sister went to their mother, who then reported the allegations to the El Centro Police Department.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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