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Freeing the San Antonio Four

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

Anna Vasquez planned on attending nursing school when she was arrested at age 19; Cassandra "Cassie" Rivera was raising two young children when arrested at age 19; Elizabeth Ramirez was 20 years old and pregnant when arrested; Kristie Mayhuh, arrested at age 21, was studying to become a veterinarian.


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On January 8, 1998, Navarijo, Delia, and their daughter went out for dinner. For dessert, they came home and helped the girl bake a cake in an Easy Bake Oven she'd just been given for Christmas. That night, the girl left to go stay with Garza, her grandmother.

At her house, Garza later told child protection workers and police, the girl appeared sad, "rather very deep in thought, tired, thinking about things." Then the girl told Garza her father repeatedly raped her. On some occasions, Garza testified, Delia watched and did nothing to stop it. "So what you're telling us today is that this child told you that her mother would come into the room and see what was going on, and not do anything about it?" questioned defense attorney Therese Huntzinger. Garza responded in Spanish, "That's right."

Garza alerted officials at the girl's pre-school the next day, who then called police and CPS.

When Delia took the daughter home, however, the story changed. "[I]s that lady (CPS worker) going to be mad at me?" the girl asked, according to Delia. "And I said no, she's not going to be mad at you, why would she be mad? She basically told me, my dad didn't touch me.

My grandma told me to say that he did. She lied."

Three days later, while the daughter was alone in another interview with the CPS caseworker, she recanted the story. "Why did you tell me that he had touched you?" CPS asked the girl, according to a transcript of the video-taped interview. "Yea, but grandma told a lie," the girl responds. "Yes, that's not what I'm asking you, but why did you tell me — remember when we talked, you told me he touched you, ok? Can you tell me why you said that?"

"Grandma told me to say that."

Navarijo's defense highlighted that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer soon after his marriage and had surgery to remove his prostate four months before the allegations surfaced. From September 1997 to August 1998, he was incontinent, unable to control urination.

Navarijo was also impotent, reluctantly revealing on the stand, "From the date of my surgery to this present day, I have not achieved an erection, sir. I am totally impotent due to the surgery."

But the girl again said her father raped her in a subsequent interview with a caseworker, in which the grandmother was present in the interviewing room. Throughout multiple statements on and off the stand, the daughter says the assault happened once. Then that it happened every night for at least a month. Or that her father assaulted her with a pico. "Can you tell me what you mean by pico?" prosecutor Jeff Mulliner asked the child. "Like — like a little sharp knife," the girl said.

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The prosecution and defense in Navarijo's case battled over one crucial element: whether Nancy Kellogg's findings confirmed the girl had been sexually assaulted.

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