December 28, 2012 | 9:02am
Anin Sen, 30, was naked and on top of an 11-year-old Santa Ana girl on Nov. 17, 1992, when the girl's mother walked into her home, saw the sex crime in action and screamed.
Sen, who was on probation for domestic violence at the time, darted from the Cambodian residence without his clothes and disappeared for 18 years.
According to the victim, Sen--a friend of the family--had raped her about 10 times beginning when she was 10 years old and Santa Ana police detectives began their unsuccessful manhunt that lasted eight years before fizzling out with rumors that the man who had no driver's license fled to San Francisco.
But fate caught up with Sen in 2010, when he landed back on the grid by applying to become a U.S. citizen and found himself arrested for committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child, tried in front of a 2011 jury and sentenced to prison by Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly.
Sen appealed, claiming that Kelly wrongly imposed the maximum possible punishment, and he said that the police delay in his arrest violated his federal and state constitutional rights to a speedy trial and due process.
His argument included that the lengthy wait destroyed a chance for his defense to perform its own DNA test on the girl's underwear, to DNA test the clothing of other residents at the crime scene to prove "washing machine transfer" put his sperm on the girl's underwear, to interview a key police detective who noted inconsistencies in the girl's story but who'd moved away and wouldn't comply with a subpoena, and to access fresh memories of witnesses.
This week, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Sen's complaints and ruled that his conviction was righteous.
A three-judge panel including justices Richard Aronson, William Rylaarsdam and Raymond Ikola, said they were satisfied by the strength of the evidence: The odds of the recovered sperm on the girl's underwear being another male was one in a trillion and the mother testified that she never washed Sen's clothes.
The panel also determined that any prejudice the arrest delay caused his defense was at worst "minimal," and noted the delay hadn't been a purposeful tactic by the government to gain an unfair courtroom advantage.
Lastly, the justices weren't impressed by Sen's argument that Kelly shouldn't have given him the maximum sentence because he'd been crime-free since the 1992 rape.
"[Kelly] identified a host of aggravating factors to support imposing the upper term, including that the [girl] was a particularly vulnerable victim, Sen exploited his position of trust in the family, and Sen was on probation when he committed the offenses," Justice Aronson wrote in the 19-page opinion.
Upshot: Sen, 52, will continue to serve his 14-year sentence at charming Corcoran State Prison.