A Maricopa man, accused of sexual conduct with a minor, is back on course for a trial in Superior Court.
Ronald Bragonier, 56, currently in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center, was arrested in 2017 and indicted on six felony counts in the high-profile case. He has twice before had jury trials set and bypassed.
Friday, in a pre-trail conference, the seven-day trial by jury was affirmed for Jan. 13-16 and Jan. 21-23 in Judge Jason Holmberg’s courtroom in Florence.
Defense attorney Vicki Lopez is challenging any testimony from Wendy Dutton, a forensic interviewer whose use as an expert witness in cases of child sexual abuse went before the state Supreme Court in 2014.
The defense in State of Arizona v. Martin David Salazar-Mercado had argued Dutton’s testimony was general and not about the specifics of the case. The Supreme Court ruled “cold” expert testimony – in Dutton’s case, explaining the general characteristics of child victims of sexual abuse – is admissible. That ruling caused Holmberg to question Lopez’s objection in the case against Bragonier, which also has prosecutors challenging defense expert witnesses.
“The motion to exclude the testimony of Wendy Dutton,” he asked, “isn’t that preempted by the Arizona Supreme Court decision specifically regarding Wendy Dutton?”
“Not necessarily,” Lopez said. “And I think that their motion on my expert also has some issues that we can resolve.”
Holmberg agreed to have oral arguments on the challenging of expert testimony, along with other outstanding motions, on Jan. 10. Bragonier, appearing in an orange, jail sweatshirt, has bonds of $500,000 and $250,000.