Fort Lauderdale, Florida teenager, Rumaldo Frometa, was recently arrested for the alleged sexual assault on a 7 year old boy at Sunview Park near Davie Boulevard. Because this park is located in Broward County, Florida, Frometa will be facing prosecution in the 17th Judicial Circuit, which sits in Fort Lauderdale.
According to the MiamiHerald.com, Frometa was identified after police received tips from local children and homeless people. Frometa is said to have confessed to the crimes and was also identified by the alleged victim and his sister in a photo line-up.
Unsurprisingly, Frometa has a prior arrest for allegedly committing a sexual assault on a different minor. Additionally, it is no surprise to learn that Frometa was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial in that prior case.
The manner in which Frometa allegedly committed the assault in Sunview Park reveals that he had no regard for risk. This disregard for risk tells us that his brain fails to correctly perceive reality or that he has such an uncontrollable impulse that he acts in spite of the inherent risks of being caught. Given the fact that he has already been declared mentally incompetent in a case similar to the instant one, it appears as though Frometa may be both psychotic and uncontrollably impulsive.
Regardless, Frometa’s mental issues will likely preclude him from standing trial. If anything, his new case only serves to reaffirm the psychologists’ finding of mental incompetence made after his first arrest.
As was discussed in our previous entry concerning this case, identification of the alleged perpetrator is a central issue in any criminal case, especially in sex offenses involving minors. However, it appears as though there were witnesses other than the children. Moreover, Frometa’s confession, if lawfully obtained by police, will likely serve to cinch any question about his identity as the true offender.
However, the most interesting part of this case turns out to be Frometa himself. Candidly, many people, myself included, expected the perpetrator to be some perverted adult male. As it turns out, Frometa is a 17 year old teenager and not the 20 or 30-something adult that the victims had originally described to police. This disparity is an excellent example of how child witnesses often times produce unreliable identification. Simply put, immature brains do not record, recollect, and verbalize memories in a reliable fashion.
In the absence of the alleged confession or supposed eye witnesses testimony by neighborhood kids and homeless people, Frometa’s identification as the perpetrator may have been suspect. I for one would like to hear more about how the police obtained his confession – especially since we know Frometa is only 17 and mentally incompetent. Given his age and incompetence, it is unlikely he understood any reading of his Miranda rights, if such reading was even done by police prior to questioning. If Frometa was unable to understand his Miranda rights, then the confession was unlawfully obtained and should be thrown out.
Moreover, what did the local kids and homeless people really see? Was he simply seen in the park at the time of the alleged assault or was he actually seen kidnapping the children at gun point? Also, to what extent did community knowledge of his prior case serve to point police in his direction?
A good criminal defense lawyer never takes anything for granted. If anything, this case presents a textbook example of how collective belief in the accused’s guilt should be thoroughly investigated and challenged.
However, at the end of the day, defense lawyers will likely rely on Frometa’s mental incompetence to keep him out of the adult system and the possibility of prison.
Regardless of Frometa’s fate, we hope that the victims and their families have a speedy recovery and get past this horrible experience as quickly as possible.