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Trial date set in Maldonado case

A trial date has been set in the sex crimes case against Matthew Maldonado.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 9 a.m. Maldonado has been charged with five counts of annoying/molesting a child.

Maldonado had a different attorney who appeared in court on his behalf on Thursday morning. Previously, Maldonado was represented by Kyle Humphrey, who has appeared in several high-profile sexual misconduct cases in the Central Valley. On Thursday, his attorney of record who appeared in court was Jared Thomas, of the Thomas Law Firm. Maldonado did not appear in the courtroom.

Thomas told the judge that there continue to be discussions with the District Attorney’s Office, but they wish to have a trial date set. Thomas also said that the talks include a discussion on the matter of 1108 evidence. California Evidence Code Section 1108 allows prosecutors to bring into evidence of the defendant’s past sexual misconduct, alleged or otherwise, when they are currently on trial for a sex crime. It is reported, which was confirmed by the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, that there was a previous investigation involving Maldonado when he was the code enforcement officer in Wasco, but no charges were ever filed as a result of the investigation.

The District Attorney’s Office also requested a readiness hearing to be held before the date of the start of the trial. This hearing is set for Tuesday February 14, in the Shafter court at 9:30a.m. A Readiness Hearing is where the attorneys appear in court, exchange discovery, which is information about the case, and may try to negotiate a disposition of the case before the case goes to trial.

Maldonado was charged with the counts after an investigation that involved video of Maldonado allegedly inappropriately touching female wrestlers during a private practice session at the residence of Coach Eli Espericueta. Espericueta turned the tapes over to the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, and the investigation resulted in the filing of charges against Maldonado. The case had been continued several times, while discussions were being made by both sides.

If no disposition is agreed upon as a result of the readiness hearing, a 10-day trial is expected.


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