Solis found not guilty of criminal sexual conduct

RELIEF: Joseph Solis hugs Lisa Kirsch Satawa, one of his attorney's, after a verdict of not guilty is read Thursday in Mecosta County's 49th Circuit Court. Solis was acquitted of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

RELIEF: Joseph Solis hugs Lisa Kirsch Satawa, one of his attorney’s, after a verdict of not guilty is read Thursday in Mecosta County’s 49th Circuit Court. Solis was acquitted of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

BIG RAPIDS  — Family members let out quiet tears as Joe Solis hugged his attorney after the jury foreman read out a verdict of not guilty Thursday in Mecosta County’s 49th Circuit Court.

Solis, 26, was acquitted on one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after a little over an hour of deliberations.

Solis was accused of assaulting a woman who he previously was in a relationship with. The assault was alleged to have occurred in March 2014 at Solis’ apartment after the two ran into each other at The Gate.

In her closing statement before jurors began deliberations, Mecosta County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Amy Clapp said Solis took advantage of a helpless young woman.

“It’s not against the law to drink alcohol in excess; that’s not why we’re here,” Clapp said. “It’s not even against the law to have drunk sex; that’s not why we’re here. Why we’re here is because the legislature has said it’s against the law to have sexual penetration with someone who is unable to communicate they want to partake in that sex act.”

But Solis’ attorney Jim Samuels said this was not what happened and he’s glad the jury understood that.

“I’m very grateful the jury saw this for what it was,” Samuels said after the verdict was read. “I’m sad for Joe Solis and his family have suffered through this as well as all the publicity that comes with it. I’m just happy it was the right result.”

During the trial Thursday, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Detective Brian Miller took the stand to discuss a recorded interview he conducted with Solis regarding the allegations against him.

Miller said he set up the interview after receiving a report about the sexual assault a few weeks after it occurred, though the complaint did not come to him from the victim in this case.

“After speaking with the victim, I talked with some people she had been around that night and then ultimately had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Solis,” Miller testified.

Miller said he informed Solis he was not being detained, did not have to answer questions and could leave at any time.

After asking Miller a few more questions, Clapp played the recorded interview for the jury to hear.

In the interview, Solis described the back-and-forth nature of his relationship with the victim, saying they had little to no contact once they broke up for the last time in November 2013. He then begins to explain, however, there was an “incident” in March.

“Long story short, she came over after the bar one night and some things happened,” Solis said in the recording. “I don’t know, I don’t want to say she didn’t want them to because at the time it was happening, but after the fact she got upset and put a restraining order on me, which just baffled me in the first place.”

He also described wanting to terminate the personal protection order. In giving some background on their relationship, Solis described an incident where he and the victim were in Las Vegas and got into a physical altercation where he put her in a headlock after she threw some of his belongings. That time was the most violent their relationship ever was, Solis said on the tape, but he did describe other times where he threw different items and lost his temper.

Miller also asked Solis to talk about how the victim reacts to drinking alcohol.

“She doesn’t know where that fine line is between enough and too much,” Solis said. “There have been several instances where she’s been hungover and throwing up for hours. In fact, that specific night that happened…well long story short she accused me of raping her.”

“You know that’s why you’re here right now, right?” Miller then asked during the interview.

“Sure, sure,” Solis replied.

That’s when Solis begins retelling what happened the night he ran into the victim at the bar and took her home. Solis said he ran into her and offered to buy her a drink. She agreed, had a drink and then he actually bought her another drink without realizing she’d previously drank a few beers earlier in the evening, he said.

He described how he got home and was vomiting, stating the two of them were very drunk. In a hearing for a PPO, Solis told Miller the victim said the two had sex that evening, but he said it was the next day they had sex because he was too drunk the night before.

He also said she was more drunk than him, possibly because he’d thrown up some of the alcohol. He also shared details of the sexual incident, giving various information and stating it was consensual.

Solis didn’t bring up these graphic details during the PPO hearing because “he didn’t want to embarrass her,” he told Miller.

During the trial, Solis chose not to testify. The sole witness called by Samuels was a friend of Solis’ who had taken him to The Gate the night of the allegations. The friend recalled seeing Solis and the woman speaking in a serious tone and also remembered seeing them kiss at the bar.

As Solis was found not guilty, Judge Kimberly Booher requested an acquittal be done and he was free to go.

avatar

Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

Leave a Reply