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September 4, 2014

Appeal planned in Livingston incest case

A Livingston man convicted of fathering two children with a teenage relative plans to appeal his case.

A Livingston man convicted of fathering two children with a teenage relative plans to appeal his case.

Arturo Morales, also known as Rolando Sanchez, was ordered to serve three years, four months in state prison by Judge Ronald W. Hansen. The sentence was handed down Tuesday in Merced Superior Court, according to court records.

Morales, 40, must register as a sex offender for life, according to Michael McKinney, the Merced County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case. “Obviously, I wish it was a longer prison sentence but I’m glad he’ll have to register as a sex offender,” McKinney said Thursday.

Morales was found guilty July 22 by a Merced County jury of committing lewd acts upon a child and three counts of incest, all felonies, according to court records.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of five years in prison, while Morales asked the judge to be placed on probation in lieu of any prison time, according to court records.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum said Morales plans to appeal the verdict and sentence.

With credit for time served, Morales will be eligible for his first parole hearing in a little more than one year, prosecutors confirmed.

Morales fathered two children with a teenage family member. The victim in the case, who is now 18 years old, has consistently supported Morales, saying she wants him in her life and the lives of the two children, attorneys in the case said.

The teenager told the court her second child with Morales was “planned,” the District Attorney’s Office confirmed.

“It’s a very sad case,” McKinney said. “Hopefully, now she’ll have some time away from him.”

Prosecutors have said both children suffer from health issues that are “possibly” related to their incestuous births.

Livingston police first looked into sexual misconduct involving Morales and the then-16-year-old relative in 2012, but detectives had no physical evidence and the victim refused to cooperate, which stalled the investigation. Police received additional DNA evidence in March linking Morales to both children, according to law enforcement officials.

He was arrested April 4.

Investigators believe Morales began having sexual intercourse with the victim when she was 15 years old.

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