A lawyer says a man charged with kidnapping and raping his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter, whom he later fathered a child with, didn't abduct the girl but helped her run away from an unhappy home life as she had yearned.
During opening statements Thursday in the trial of 42-year-old Isidro Garcia, defense attorney Seth Bank said his client conceded to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with the girl but that it was consensual.
Bank showed photos of the smiling couple getting married years later and celebrating their daughter's birthday.
Local news from across Southern California
Bank says Garcia's wife went to police in 2014 with a fabricated story of her 2004 abduction when she regretted her choice and wanted to reunite with her family.
The girl arrived in the U.S. from Mexico in February 2004 to be with her mother and sister in Santa Ana, according to the Santa Ana Police Department's investigation. The abduction occurred in August of that year while Garcia was in a relationship with the girl's mother, according to police.
The suspect then convinced the girl that her family no longer wanted her and threatened her with deportation, according to prosecutors. She was later forced to marry Garcia, police said.
Investigators say Garcia drugged the teenager, moved her to different locations and used fake documents to change both of their identities.
Authorities said Garcia fathered a daughter with her.