Interpreter needed in Juarez-Alonzo court case

In addition to the “extraordinarily serious” criminal charges against him, a Holton resident and attorneys involved in his Jackson County District Court case also face getting over the “language barrier” on the way to resolving his case.

Pedro Juarez-Alonzo, 30, who has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, rape and five other charges in connection with an alleged Feb. 8 incident in Holton, is a native of Guatemala and does not speak English, it was noted in court during a preliminary status hearing on Thursday.

The hearing was continued to Thursday, March 10, to give Juarez-Alonzo, his defense attorney, J. Richard Lake of Holton, and Sherri Sanchez of Holton, who has been called in to serve as an interpreter for Juarez-Alonzo, more time to prepare the case. Juarez-Alonzo currently remains at the Jackson County Detention Center on $200,000 bond.

The full list of charges against Juarez-Alonzo, according to a criminal complaint filed in district court, includes attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery, two counts of criminal threat, aggravated endangering a child and domestic battery, all connected to the alleged Feb. 8 incident. The rape charge, according to the complaint, stems from alleged incidents that occurred between April 1 and Sept. 30 of last year.

Jackson County District Court Judge Norbert Marek noted that the charges against Juarez-Alonzo are “extraordinarily serious,” and that the requirement of an interpreter for the defendant complicated matters in the case. Marek also asked Sanchez whether the defendant’s particular dialect would pose a problem for the defense.

“He can understand me,” replied Sanchez, an interpreter who works with the Spanish-language congregation at Evangel United Methodist Church in Holton.

It was reported that several people of Guatemalan descent have been settling in the Holton area in recent years. But while the national language of that country is Spanish, many who have settled here speak one of two Mayan language dialects native to that Central American country.

Jackson County Attorney Shawna Miller agreed with Marek that “there’s a language barrier for all involved” in the case. But Lake and Sanchez said they would work as quickly as possible to ensure that Juarez-Alonzo is given the right to a speedy trial.

“We’re probably going to take more time to handle this, but we’ll do it as quickly as possible,” Lake said Thursday.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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