HILLSBORO, Ore.- On June 17, 2021, Jontay Joseph Cox pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder and was sentenced to 90 months in prison by Presiding Judge Beth Roberts. Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff MacLean prosecuted the case against the defendant.

In the early morning hours of April 21, 2021, the victim in this case noticed someone inside his car in an apartment complex parking lot located in Beaverton, Oregon. The victim went to investigate and found the defendant inside his vehicle. He confronted Mr. Cox and ordered him to get out of the car.

Mr. Cox exited the vehicle and began to walk away. The victim then turned his back to the defendant so he could lock his vehicle when the defendant fired five rounds from a handgun towards the victim. One bullet struck the victim in the arm. Several other rounds hit the exterior of the apartment building. Fortunately, no one else was wounded and the victim eventually made a full recovery.

Patrol deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office quickly responded to the scene and located the suspect a short time later. After securing a search warrant for Mr. Cox’s vehicle, investigators found the handgun used in the shooting along with five shell casings still in the firearm.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of the patrol deputies who responded to the scene, Detective Timothy Miller and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Cox will be transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence.

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
971-708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore.- On June 9, 2021, Ryan Javier Gonzalez, age 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree online sex corruption and two counts of luring a minor. Judge Erik Buchér then sentenced the defendant to five years in prison. Deputy District Attorney Matt Wise prosecuted the case against the defendant.

In March of 2020, Beaverton Police Detective Chad Opitz created a profile on a social networking site known to be associated with illegal activity. The profile purported to belong to a mother of a 10-year-old girl. That same day, Mr. Gonzalez, who was already a convicted sex offender at the time, messaged the account. The defendant offered to be the girl’s “teacher” and described in graphic detail the sexual activities he wanted to subject the child to. He also sent graphic videos to the account and asked that they be shown to the girl.

A few days after this initial contact, the defendant messaged the account again. He sent additional graphic images and agreed to meet the mother and daughter at a location in Beaverton, Oregon. He did arrive at that location but noticed a police car and fled the area.

Just four days later, the defendant began messaging the account again. He agreed to meet the child at a park and promised to bring a condom with him. Undercover officers watched as Mr. Gonzalez arrived at the park. He was then arrested. Officers found a condom in his pocket.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of Detective Chad Opitz and the Beaverton Police Department on this case.

In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Gonzalez was also ordered to undergo three years of post-prison supervision, register as a sex offender and complete child sex abuse treatment. Mr. Gonzalez will be transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence.

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
971-708-8219

In May, we joined our community and law enforcement partners to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

 

It’s more important than ever to show our support for our fellow community members, especially in light of shocking and disturbing incidents of hate and bias crimes targeting Asians across the country.  

 

We’d like to thank the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Muslim Educational Trust for joining us in this effort.

HILLSBORO, Ore.- On May 26, 2021, Judge Eric Buchér found Jermel Arcilicia Taylor guilty of second-degree robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle following a bench trial. Judge Buchér then sentenced the defendant to 70 months in prison. Senior Deputy District Attorney Allison Brown prosecuted the defendant.

On February 26, 2021, the defendant and another man went to a car dealership in Beaverton, Oregon. They spoke with a salesman and requested to test drive a vehicle on the lot. The car needed fuel, so the three men drove to a nearby gas station. After they left the gas station, Mr. Taylor stopped following the salesman’s directions.  He eventually told the salesman that he had a gun and he was taking the car.

The pair drove off and the salesman immediately called police. Beaverton police located the stolen car shortly after in downtown Beaverton and arrested Mr. Taylor. He told officers he dropped off his partner along the way. Mr. Taylor admitted he took the car and told the victim to get out of the car but denied threatening him. He said he felt entitled to take the vehicle because other dealerships had previously denied him financing. He also told authorities that he planned to commit similar crimes again until he was given what he wanted. Police learned that this pair had indeed visited other dealerships in the metro area and engaged in threatening behavior when they were denied financing. Police have since identified the second suspect. 

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of the Beaverton Police Department and Washington County Sheriff’s Office in apprehending the defendant so quickly. The DA’s Office also thanks the Oregon State Police Forensic Lab for their work on the case and acknowledges the victim’s bravery in facing this defendant in court. 

Mr. Taylor will be transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence.

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
971-708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore.- Gonzalo Pizano-Guzman, age 20, disappeared on the evening of July 6, 2000. As his family searched for him, authorities first discovered his car burned south of Cornelius, and then his body on the side of a gravel road near Henry Hagg Lake. He had been shot and stabbed by unknown assailants. The WCSO began an extensive investigation into Gonzalo’s murder, culminating in the arrest of Joseph Noble and Rafael Mora-Contreras about two months later. Investigators learned that Mora-Contreras had likely killed Gonzalo to prevent his upcoming marriage to Marisol Mora, Rafael Mora-Contreras’ sister. Noble, a criminal associate of Mora-Contreras, had joined in kidnapping and then killing Gonzalo at the behest of Mora-Contreras.

The joint trial of Mora-Contreras and Noble in 2003 remains one of the lengthiest and most complex in Washington County history. During the trial, many individuals testified, some cooperatively and others less so. Both defendants took the witness stand and proclaimed their own innocence while blaming the other for Gonzalo’s murder. The jury convicted both men of murder and each received a life sentence.  Specifically, Mora-Contreras was convicted of Aggravated Murder based on the theory that he had paid Joseph Noble to carry out the crime.

Both convictions were affirmed by the Oregon Court of Appeals.  In 2008 Mora-Contreras filed a petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) in Marion County Circuit Court (case No. 08C25103), alleging that the performance of his original defense attorneys and his appellate attorneys was defective in various ways.  Per standard practice, attorneys from the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) represented the State in the PCR litigation, and the Washington County DA’s Office (WCDA) was not a party or directly involved in any way. 

Remarkably, the PCR litigation took nine years from beginning to end.  In November 2017, retired Marion County Judge Jamese Rhoades issued an opinion granting post-conviction relief to Mora-Contreras and sending his case back for a new trial. Judge Rhoades ruled that Mora-Contreras’s defense attorney should have objected to the requirement that he wear a leg restraint and/or a stun belt (fully concealed anti-escape devices) during the trial.  The WCDA’s Office was surprised and disappointed by this ruling and requested that DOJ appeal Judge Rhodes’ decision. DOJ declined to appeal, and Mora-Contreras was then returned from state prison to the Washington County Jail to await his new trial.

The new trial process has taken several years to progress to this point due in part to delays associated with the pandemic and in part to challenges associated with retrying a case nearly two decades later. New defense attorneys were appointed to represent Mora-Contreras, and new prosecutors were assigned (one of the original prosecutors is now a judge and the other has retired).  Additionally, many aspects of the case against Mora-Contreras have changed in the over seventeen years since the original trial. Some witnesses have died, others have become uncooperative, and significant evidence is no longer available to the State. Furthermore, the legislature has since amended the Oregon murder statutes in ways that benefit criminal defendants. Given the changed dynamics, the WCDA in 2021 agreed to participate in a settlement conference with Judge Eric Bergstrom, a veteran judge of dozens of murder cases.  Judge Bergstrom brokered and ratified the resolution of this case.

Today, Rafael Mora-Contreras pleaded guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree and Kidnapping in the Second Degree and was sentenced to 25 years and 10 months in prison. 

From 2018 until as recently as last week, the WCDA has been in periodic and detailed communication with the family of Gonzalo Pizano-Guzman. This has included consultation with an experienced victim advocate and direct meetings with the assigned prosecutors. Through our meetings we have found the Pizano family to be an extremely loving and dedicated group.  They are justifiably passionate about seeking justice for their son and brother’s murder.  To that end, they have clearly expressed that, if at all possible, Rafael Mora-Contreras should be re-sentenced to the same life term originally imposed.  Prosecutors have explained the difficult aspects of the case to the Pizano family, but they remain steadfast in their belief that Mora-Contreras should receive a life sentence.  The WCDA’s Office agrees that Mora-Contreras deserves to spend his life in prison for the murder of Gonzalo Pizano-Guzman.  However, we must also weigh the strength of the evidence in a case in 2021, the likelihood of conviction, the changes to Oregon’s murder laws that have a retroactive impact on this case, and the likely sentence when deciding whether to agree to a resolution.  It is the professional assessment of experienced prosecutors that this plea agreement is indeed the appropriate resolution to this case.  We applaud the passion of the victim’s family, and regret that they are unhappy with the result.

The co-defendant, Joseph Noble, did not file a PCR claim and remains incarcerated with the Oregon Department of Corrections. He will be eligible for a parole hearing in 2031.

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
971-708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore.- On May 11, 2021, Miguel Hernandez-Cuesta plead guilty to attempted second-degree assault, aggravated harassment and driving under the influence of intoxicants. Judge Ramón Pagán then sentenced the defendant to three years formal probation and six months in the Washington County Jail. In addition to his jail sentence, Judge Pagán also ordered the defendant’s driver’s license be revoked for life. Deputy District Attorney Nadya Martin prosecuted the case against Mr. Hernandez-Cuesta.

In the early morning hours of July 26, 2020, the defendant attempted to place an order via a drive-thru window at a restaurant in Tualatin, Oregon. Once the order was placed, the defendant pulled up to the second window and fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. A store manager confronted the defendant who denied he was under the influence. He then pulled into a parking spot at the restaurant and feel asleep at the wheel a second time.

Several officers responded to the scene and found the defendant asleep. He was partially hanging out of the driver’s side door with the vehicle running. They ordered him to exit the vehicle at which point his vehicle rolled forward and nearly struck a law enforcement vehicle.

The defendant agreed to step out of the car and participate in field sobriety tests.  At the conclusion of the tests, officers placed him under arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicants. The defendant began to cough profusely and told officers he had COVID-19 while the officer was searching him. Officers told him to stop what he was doing. As an officer was checking his pockets, the defendant turned and coughed and spat on her face. He was restrained and taken to the Washington County Jail for processing.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of the Tigard Police Department on this case.

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
971-708-8219

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HILLSBORO, Ore.- On June 17, 2021, Jontay Joseph Cox pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder and was sentenced to 90 months in prison by Presiding Judge Beth Roberts. Senior Deputy District...
HILLSBORO, Ore.- On June 9, 2021, Ryan Javier Gonzalez, age 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree online sex corruption and two counts of luring a minor. Judge Erik Buchér then sentenced the defendant to...
In May, we joined our community and law enforcement partners to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.   It’s more important than ever to show our support for our fellow community...
HILLSBORO, Ore.- On May 26, 2021, Judge Eric Buchér found Jermel Arcilicia Taylor guilty of second-degree robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle following a bench trial. Judge Buchér then...
HILLSBORO, Ore.- Gonzalo Pizano-Guzman, age 20, disappeared on the evening of July 6, 2000. As his family searched for him, authorities first discovered his car burned south of Cornelius, and then his...
HILLSBORO, Ore.- On May 11, 2021, Miguel Hernandez-Cuesta plead guilty to attempted second-degree assault, aggravated harassment and driving under the influence of intoxicants. Judge Ramón Pagán then...
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