Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto
Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto sodomized a 3-year-old relative after becoming sexually aroused by the toddler while playing video games. 

An appellate panel Tuesday reversed a 10-year sentence given to an Orange County man who sodomized a 3-year-old relative, which sparked international headlines and public rebukes for the judge, who deviated from a state-mandated life term for the defendant.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas appealed Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly’s sentence for 21-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto. The appeal was transferred to the appellate court in San Diego in September.

Oral arguments were made Jan. 11 and the ruling on the appeal was handed down Tuesday. The details of the ruling were not immediately available, but it appears from the appellate court records that the justices directed a lower court judge to hand down the state-mandated 25 years-to-life sentence.

The ruling by Kelly, who has since been moved to Family Law Court in Orange, prompted a recall effort that ultimately failed when organizers could not get enough signatures to get it on the ballot in June.

Kelly’s statements during the April 3, 2015, sentencing drew the ire of Orange County supervisors and organizers behind the recall effort.

“He was playing video games and she wandered into the garage,” Kelly said of the victim. “He inexplicably became sexually aroused but did not appear to consciously intend to harm (the victim) when he sexually assaulted her. … There was no violence or callous disregard for (the victim’s) well- being.”

–City News Service 

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