Man snared in 'To Catch a Predator' sting has motion for new trial denied

ariquelmy@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 9, 2012 

One of the men snared in the 2006 “To Catch a Predator” sting in Harris County will not get a new trial after the state appeals court denied his request last month.

Reymundo Anguiano, 29, of Albany, Ga., does not intend to pursue his appeal any further. He was paroled in August after serving about four years of a seven-year prison sentence, his attorney said.

Anguiano was convicted by a Gray, Ga., jury in October 2007 of attempted child molestation and attempted enticing a child for indecent purposes. He appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, arguing that he should have a new trial because jurors never should have seen a videotaped interview of him and “Predator” host Chris Hansen.

Anguiano was paroled while his appeal was pending.

The appeals court denied on Dec. 28 his motion for a new trial. Anguiano initially planned to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, but ultimately decided against it, said defense attorney Michael Garner.

“It’s pretty clear to me that we’re not going to win on this issue,” Garner added.

Anguiano was one of 20 men busted in the July 2006 sting and was featured on the Dateline NBC show starring Hansen. The show features men such as Anguiano who chat online with people they believe are underage children and then arrange to meet the “child” for sex. Anguiano believed he was going to meet a 14-year-old girl at her Fortson, Ga. home, prosecutors said.

Once the men enter the “child’s” home, they are sometimes met by Hansen, who interviews them. The men leave the home and are arrested.

At issue in Anguiano’s appeal was whether Hansen was essentially a law enforcement officer during the interview.

If Hansen was, he should have given Anguiano a Miranda warning. Without that warning, the videotape should have been kept from jurors, Anguiano argues in court documents.

“He’s the first to argue that ‘To Catch a Predator’ was an agent of law enforcement,” said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Dunlap, who handled the appeal. “This is a central issue that it comes down to for a lot of folks. That means that the way that (law enforcement) did this type of bust is a valid way to do it.”

The appeals court said that someone’s movements must be confined somehow for him to be in custody. Anguiano saw no officers when he entered the home and spoke with Hansen, was free to move while talking to the show’s host and later left the home on his own. Officers arrested Anguiano once he stepped outside.

“Apparently, cooperating with police is different from being their agent,” Garner said. “If you’re their agent, you’re operating under (law enforcement’s) direct control.”

The state Supreme Court is not required to hear all the appeals it receives. Garner estimated that it hears 3 percent of the cases appealed to it.

Since he was paroled, Anguiano has returned to the Albany area, though sex offender restrictions keep him from living with his parents. He lives outside of the city and has a part-time job, Garner said.

“He is wearing an ankle monitor,” Garner added. “He’s got to comply with the strict requirements of parole.”

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