A mentally impaired homeless man was handcuffed in a Fresno courtroom Thursday after being convicted of masturbating in front of two women at Woodward Park in northeast Fresno last year.
The Fresno County Superior Court jury deliberated about 45 minutes before finding Carlos Flores, 25, guilty of a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure. Judge Brian Alvarez immediately sentenced Flores to 180 days in jail and three years of probation. Flores also has to register as a sex offender for life.
In court papers, Flores contended he was falsely accused.
Prosecutor Samona Taylor, however, told the jury that two women saw him masturbating about 10 feet from a jogging trail in Woodward Park near Fort Washington Avenue and Friant Road.
In court papers, Carlos Flores contended he was falsely accused.
Woodward Park is one of the most popular recreational sites in Fresno, and is used by scores of walkers, joggers and cyclists every day.
Court records say Flores was sleeping at Roeding Park near Olive Avenue and Highway 99 when he woke up around 2 a.m. and decided to walk nearly 13 miles to Woodward Park on March 30, 2016. Around 7:45 am., two woman on a jogging trail came by and saw him masturbating, Taylor said.
One of two women called 911. As she was talking on her cell phone, Flores approached, but stopped once she told him that she had called police.
“He began to walk in what she described as circles on the walkway, pretending like he was on the phone,” according Taylor’s trial brief.
When police arrived, Flores told officers he saw two men in the park masturbating and told them to stop “because they could get in trouble,” the brief said. Flores also told police that “they were wearing clothing kinda like mine.”
Flores said told police he goes to Woodward Park because he likes to jog on the trails and “shadow box” for exercise. When he was arrested, he accused a female officer of molesting him when she patted him down for potential weapons.
Before he was handcuffed in court Thursday, Flores had been free on his own recognizance for more than a year.
Dr. Howard Terrell found Flores having “below normal intellect and possibly mild intellectual disability,” court records say.
In March this year, Flores’ competency to stand trial was called into question. The court ordered Clovis psychiatrist Howard Terrell to examine him.
In his report, Terrell found Flores, a high school dropout, having “below normal intellect and possibly mild intellectual disability.” Terrell also noted that Flores told him he once smoked marijuana, but had no addictions to drugs or alcohol.
Flores told Terrell that when he was 17, he exiled himself for nearly eight months to his bedroom at his parents’ home in Fresno. He also said he had been molested by an older cousin when he was in the 10th grade.
Flores told Terrell he was falsely accused.
Because Flores understood the charge against him, and the role of the prosecutor and judge, Terrell found Flores competent to stand trial, court records say.