A 36-year-old Fresno man lashed out at a Merced County judge Friday, moments after he was convicted of molesting a 4-year-old Merced girl.
Lonnie Lee Poslof Jr. was found guilty of four felonies, three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child and one count of oral copulation. All of the charges involve the same 4-year-old victim and took place in Merced between April and June 2013, according to Merced Police Department investigation reports.
A jury of eight women and four men handed down their verdict Friday afternoon after deliberating for about five hours.
Judge John D. Kirihara was thanking jurors for their service when Poslof shouted out, “You don’t allow evidence in that should’ve been in.”
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As Kirihara left the bench for the day, Poslof called out, “The judge put away an innocent person.”
Merced police Detective Raquel Rios, lead investigator in the case, wasn’t surprised by Poslof’s outburst.
“From the beginning of the case, Poslof has done everything in his power to deter the testimony of a small child,” Rios said later. “He demonstrates that even at the end of the trial’s proceedings, he’s exactly where he belongs – behind bars. He may have had the last word in his outburst today, but the justice system will have the final say.”
Poslof’s attorney, Tom Pfeiff, declined to comment on his client’s outburst Friday.
“He’s very disappointed,” Pfeiff said outside the courtroom Friday.
He demonstrates that even at the end of the trial’s proceedings, he’s exactly where he belongs – behind bars.
Detective Raquel Rios, Merced Police Department
Investigators have accused Poslof of molesting as many as five children; however, he only was charged with harming one victim.
Michael McKinney, the Merced County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, acknowledged “other allegations were made” involving multiple children, but declined to comment on why those cases were not charged.
McKinney praised the victim and her testimony during the trial. The child was allowed to testify from another location from a closed-circuit television camera, the first time such testimony has been allowed in any Merced County case, McKinney said.
“The judge made a finding that testifying with the defendant in the same room could cause her severe emotional distress,” McKinney said. “She was incredibly brave speaking about what happened to her, and I’m very happy that she has some justice.”
Prosecutors said the victim’s family “is incredibly supportive” and has made sure the child receives all the counseling and support needed.
McKinney said, in addition to the victim’s testimony, the “tireless investigation” from Rios and Merced detectives “made the case’s resolution possible.” McKinney specifically noted Rios stayed on top the hunt for Poslof for nearly a year while he was on the run.
Rios said she was pleased with the verdict.
“The relief I feel because Poslof will not be able to harm any more children is the best sense of justice that exists,” she said. “I am extremely elated and satisfied with the jury’s verdict.”
Poslof faces a maximum prison sentence of 27 years to life, prosecutors said.
The judge ordered Poslof held without bail at the Merced County jail pending sentencing, which is set for Jan. 6.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482