Alleged Tucson impostor awaits jury decision

He faces abuse, assault charges in 3 incidents in 2012
2013-08-11T00:00:00Z 2013-08-12T09:04:52Z Alleged Tucson impostor awaits jury decisionPatrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Three women have accused Norman Adrian Alvarez of impersonating a police officer or bounty hunter as part of a ruse to sexually molest them or extort money and/or sex.

But Michael Areinoff, Alvarez's lawyer, told a Pima County Superior Court jury the women's stories are far-fetched, filled with inconsistencies and lacking any physical evidence.

The jury will continue deliberations in the case against Alvarez on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, sexual abuse and criminal impersonation on Monday.

"Maybe you're asking yourself: 'Why would anyone do this?' " Deputy Pima County Attorney Kathryn Furtado said to jurors, addressing the implausible nature of the allegations against Alvarez. "Maybe the better question is, why would these women lie?"

The three victims, whom the Arizona Daily Star is not identifying, all told police similar stories.

In August 2012, one victim was in her apartment late at night when someone knocked at the door. The man standing there told her he was a bounty hunter and was there to protect her from some dangerous men who were watching her.

But his intentions soon turned, the woman said, and he threatened to have her boyfriend arrested and her children taken into Child Protective Services custody.

"The defendant told her, 'I've been watching you and I know where you take your kids,'" Furtado told jurors.

The man relented, however, and said he would take money or sex with the woman instead, the prosecutor argued.

The woman returned to her apartment and told her boyfriend. When the man again knocked at her door, the boyfriend confronted the man who attempted to stab him.

The boyfriend testified he managed to knock away the knife before the man fled. The girlfriend then collected the knife and wrapped it in a T-shirt to give to police.

A short time later at the same apartment complex, another woman said she had a similar encounter with a man who claimed to be a bounty hunter.

She told police a man approached her in the parking lot as she sat in her car smoking a cigarette. She said the man leaned into her passenger side window identifying himself as a bounty hunter, then took the keys from the ignition and fondled her breasts.

Furtado told jurors he told the second woman to wait in her car for his return.

When he came back, the second woman said, he climbed into the passenger seat and told her to drive away. She said she heard a thump against her car as she drove away, which she thought was from someone throwing a rock.

The boyfriend of the first woman told police he saw the man he had the confrontation with climbing into the car and threw a rock at him, hitting the car.

The second women later stopped the car and got out, where she sought help from a man in the apartment complex.

Police connected Alvarez to another incident, which happened in May 2012, where they accuse him of grabbing a third woman's breasts.

That woman testified she was homeless at the time and was sleeping in front of a Circle K store on South Campbell Avenue and East Drexel Road when a man propositioned her.

She said that she told the man to leave and then started to walk to a nearby bus stop, where the man again approached saying he was an undercover police officer searching for a serial rapist.

She said he asked for her identification and made a call on his cellphone, which she thought was to check if there were any warrants against her.

The man, she said, asked to search her purse for weapons and after some discussion she agreed, never asking him to show a badge or other police identification. When he asked if she had other weapons, she said she had a screwdriver stashed in her bra.

She testified he groped and touched her breasts and demanded sex, then took her cellphone and left.

"I told you at the beginning of the case that this was going to be about stories versus hard evidence," Areinoff told jurors, disputing the women's claims.

He said DNA samples taken from the the skin and clothing of two of the victims did not match Alvarez's.

He also said the first woman and her boyfriend's stories were inconsistent, asking why she would stand outside her apartment for several minutes late at night speaking with a stranger.

He suggested it was more likely the boyfriend attacked Alvarez with a knife and reminded jurors Alvarez called 911 on the night in question to report an attempted assault against him.

"It's contradiction after contradiction after contradiction," Areinoff said.

Tests found none of Alvarez's DNA on the knife.

Perhaps the biggest disparity Areinoff seized upon was the different identification numbers in connection with the third woman's stolen cellphone.

"Turns out, it might not be (the victim's) phone," Areinoff said.

The identification number on the phone was reported differently in police reports than it was when the victim was asked to read the number from the phone during the trial.

Furtado asked jurors to consider the testimony and other evidence presented at trial and not dwell on a potential mistake by her or the police in recording the cellphone identification number.

Jury deliberations began late Friday and are scheduled to resume Monday.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

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