Gregory Ruiz Aguirre Conviction Overturned in Surf City Cops' Craigslist Underage Sex Sting

When we last checked in on Gregory Ruiz Aguirre--in March of last year, to be precise--the El Monte 53-year-old had just been sentenced to 457 days in jail, five years probation and mandatory sex offender registration for arranging to meet a "13-year-old girl" who was actually a Huntington Beach cop. He was also looking at four years in prison if he violated parole.

Now he's looking at nothing.

Three justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana have ruled that Orange County Superior Court Judge Lance Jensen erred in his jury instructions by failing to mention a possible entrapment defense.

Though Aguirre and his attorneys never sought those instructions, the judge should have realized there was "substantial evidence of entrapment," according to the appeals panel.

That sends the Aguirre case back to trial, and the Orange County District Attorney's office is weighing how to proceed.

Aguirre was among six men who responded to the Huntington Bech Police Department's fake personal ads posted on craigslist. His exchange with who he believed to be a 13-year-girl looking to make $100 began on May 18, 2010, first rather casually--as befits the Casual Encounters category--and then quite sexually. He discussed oral sex and other sex acts before setting up a meeting.

On May 26, 2010, Aguirre drove to the arranged meeting place in Huntington Beach. Upon arrival, he was pulled over by a Huntington Beach patrol car and taken into custody. A jury on March 2, 2011, found him guilty of one felony count each of meeting a minor with intent to engage in lewd contact, attempted lewd act on a child under 14, and contacting a child with the intent to commit a specified crime.

"Our analysis suggests the government should not be in the business of testing the will of law-abiding citizens with elaborate (if improbable) fantasies of sensuous teenagers desperate to engage in sexual acts with random middle-aged men," wrote Justice Raymond Ikola in the opinion.

". . . Our review of the record suggests a reasonable jury could find that the police conduct would illegitimately ensnare normally law-abiding individuals in an illegal conversation they would not have otherwise pursued. In sum, the jury might have believed the conduct of the police was likely to induce a normally law-abiding person to commit some or all of the charged crimes. We therefore reverse the judgment."

Justices Richard Fybel and William Rylaarsdam concurred.

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