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Judge to rule whether jurors can hear victim’s ID of Fairview man from CLIFFVIEW PILOT story in cold-case sex assault

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

UPDATE: A judge in Hackensack said she’ll consider a motion by defense attorneys for a Fairview man awaiting a pair of sex assault trials to prohibit his accuser’s identification of him after seeing his mugshot on CLIFFVIEW PILOT three years ago.

Saying there will be no more delays or “further adjournments” in the case, Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti set Nov. 2 to launch the separate trials against former auto mechanic Jose Augusto Masmela-Sarmiento, 49.

Detectives first arrested Masmela-Sarmiento in March 2012 on charges of molesting a Fairview girl between May 2002 and April 2005, beginning when she was 13.

New counts were added after another woman, seeing the Colombian native’s mugshot on a CLIFFVIEW PILOT story about the arrest, came forward.

SEE: Charges filed in cold-case sex crime after victim sees mugshot on CLIFFVIEW PILOT

Interviewed by detectives, she revealed details no one else would know of the alleged May 3, 2001 assault on Palisade Plaza in Cliffside Park, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the case told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

It was around 9 at night when an attacker threw her to the ground and molested her on May 3, 2001, the girl, then 15, told police.

The original report said the girl told police she screamed but no help came. It also included photos of scratch marks she said she sustained in the struggle.

“This identification is hopelessly tainted, including that it was done nearly two decades after the alleged offense, from one picture with a headline on it,” defense attorney S. Emile Lisboa contended in court on Monday.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice has offered Masmela-Sarmiento a 12-year plea deal, but he has maintained his innocence.

Conducted separately, each of his two trials would take about three weeks, including jury selection.

Lisboa said his client will need “an accommodation” because he has a severe speech impediment and communications with him are difficult.

Masmela-Sarmiento is illiterate, Lisboa added, and won’t be able to take notes.

“I haven’t figured out yet what kind of assistance to request,” the attorney said.

Both cases involve mistaken identity, Lisboa previously told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

His client had extensive facial surgery to repair a deformity of the mouth and looks completely different than he did in 2001, the date of the alleged assault, he said.

Masmela-Sarmiento remainedy free on $300,000 bail.

STORY / PHOTO: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

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