Almost six months to the day after a jury failed to return a decision on a child molestation defendant’s guilt, a Glynn County jury convicted him on all counts.
The jurors — nine women and three men — found Leonard B. Palmitesto guilty Thursday of five counts of child molestation, three counts of sexual battery against a child younger than 16 and one count of aggravated child molestation for acts committed on a 13-year-old girl who suffers cerebral palsy.
After receiving Superior Court Judge Anthony Harrison’s instructions, the jury retired to deliberate but returned to the courtroom shortly after to re-watch the victim’s two forensic interviews, in which she explained to the Safe Harbor program director, LaTanya Roberts, what Palmitesto did to her on at least two occasions at his residence between July and August 2016.
Jurors left the courtroom again at 10:25 a.m., but sent notification shortly after 11:40 a.m. they had reached a verdict. Palmitesto, 62, did not show much reaction as the clerk read out the verdict on each of the nine counts, though he did watch the polling of the jury, as each juror confirmed their individual guilty votes.
Defense attorney Kevin Gough asked to move Palmitesto’s sentencing to Tuesday morning, which Harrison granted, as Gough said sentencing in these cases can be complicated. Also, Gough, Harrison and Assistant District Attorney Carrie Coleman were already scheduled to meet for a 9 a.m. Tuesday hearing regarding motions in the Billy Ray Hutto child molestation case. The Hutto matter is unrelated to Palmitesto’s case.
Because Palmitesto already served more than 13 years in state prison on a 1997 Glynn County conviction for child molestation and statutory rape, he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for each child molestation count.
The aggravated child molestation conviction carries with it a life sentence, which can be split into a minimum of 25 years in prison and lifetime probation. The sexual battery counts each include a mandatory minimum prison sentence of one year.