Judge declares mistrial in case of former Waco man accused of sexually abusing young relative

Jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict
David Armando Solis-Bernal
David Armando Solis-Bernal(Tommy Witherspoon for KWTX)
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A 19th State District Court jury considering whether a former Waco man sexually abused a young family member in 2018 could not reach a unanimous verdict Wednesday, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.

The jury of seven women and five men reported to Judge Thomas West that they were hopelessly deadlocked after four hours deliberating the fate of David Armando Solis-Bernal, a 35-year-old heavy equipment operator for a utility company.

Jurors were deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquitting Solis-Bernal, court officials said.

Solis-Bernal, who has been jailed 807 days waiting for his day in court, will remain jailed under $20,000 bond and an immigration detainer, according to county records. No date was set Wednesday for a retrial on the second-degree felony indecency with a child by contact charge.

Defense attorney Abel Reyna, who represents Solis-Bernal with attorney Steven VerSteeg, limited his comments after the mistrial was declared because the case remains pending.

“I appreciate this jury’s careful consideration of all the evidence,” Reyna said.

Assistant District Attorney Will Hix, who prosecuted the case with Will Gray, also thanked the jury for their “time and attention.”

“It is always valuable when members of the community are able to lend their voices to the process,” Hix said. “We will carefully consider what they told us this week and move forward accordingly.”

A girl, who is now 12, testified Tuesday that Solis-Bernal touched her inappropriately on multiple occasions while Solis-Bernal lived with the girl’s mother and siblings in 2018 at the Sandstone Apartments in the 5100 block of Sanger Avenue in Waco.

Solis-Bernal denied the charges Wednesday, testifying with the assistance of Spanish interpreter Dan Carroll. He told the jury that the girl asked him for a hug before going to bed one night and went into the room with her mother. Ten minutes later, the girl’s mother came out and asked him why he had been touching her daughter, he said.

“I said, ‘I have never touched your daughter. I don’t know why you are saying that. You could get me in a lot of trouble. If you want me to leave your house, I’ll leave,’” he testified.

Solis-Bernal said he left the home and went to the gym because he didn’t have any place else to go. About 3 a.m., the girl’s mother called him and said she had filed a report with police and warned him they might be looking for him.

He said he called the police department a few days later and asked to speak to the detective assigned the case. He was told to check back in two to three weeks.

He said he eventually moved to Dallas and got a new job, but the girl’s mother stayed in contact with him on a daily basis and continued their romantic relationship by visiting him regularly at his new apartment in Dallas. Solis-Bernal said the woman even signed a note so he could get a car and helped him get insurance for it.

Under cross-examination from Hix, Solis-Bernal told the jury that he still isn’t sure why, but said the girl lied to them, to police, to forensic interviewers and to a sexual assault examiner about the alleged abuse.

This is the second mistrial in the past month in 19th State District Court in which Reyna represented the defendant.

A jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt on Sept. 23 in the murder trial of Quest Aljabaughn Jones, who is charged in the 2019 shooting death of Sherrell Carter, the mother of his three children.