The eighth and final day of the jury trial was completed yesterday for Half Moon Bay resident Johnathan Edhammer, 23, accused of forcing a young relative to perform sex acts by withholding her stuffed animals.
The jury deliberated until 11 a.m. and returned verdicts of guilty for felony lewd act on a child by force or fear and continuous child molestation.
These crimes are “more commonly known as child molestation,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, “and he was found guilty on a total of eight felony counts of child molestation.”
When the guilty verdicts were read, the defendant became physically ill and vomited into a garbage can, according to a report from Wagstaffe. Edhammer’s family became hysterical and was loudly wailing in the courtroom. One family was briefly resistive to a deputy sheriff advising them to quiet down, said Wagstaffe.
The molestation of the victim allegedly started at age nine and went on for a couple of years until April 2010 when the victim finally disclosed the suspect’s crimes to her friend and eventually her parents. The abuse began with the half uncle taking the relative's stuffed animals and returning them only after she had carried out a sex act, prosecutors said. It progressed with him allegedly threatening to hurt her dolls if she didn't comply with his sexual demands.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office began investigating the case after another family member reported the alleged abuse.
The court granted the prosecution motion to remand the defendant into custody on no bail status. The case will continue July 13, 2012, for receipt of the pre-sentence report and for imposition of sentence.
The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 22 years state prison. This is a mandatory prison case.
The defendant had been out of custody on $500,000 property bond.
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