Tattooed Fresno boy case, new defense tactic

FRESNO, Calif.

The boy's father and a friend face life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge in the case. They now admit it was a mistake to put a dog paw tattoo on the boy's right hip.

The key to the prosecution is proving the defendants intentionally disfigured the little boy. The first defense was that the boy wanted it, but he denied that on the witness stand Tuesday. Defense attorneys turned to the circumcision defense Wednesday.

Travis Gorman sat nervously in court as the now-8-year-old boy he tattooed told a jury about the grape-sized dog paw on his hip.

When police initially questioned Gorman in April 2009, he admitted that he and Enrique Gonzalez were Bulldog gang members, but he denied inking Gonzalez's young son.

"Did you tatt(oo) a 7-year-old kid?" asked the police investigator.

"No," said Gorman. "Why would I tattoo a 7-year-old kid? What? That's crazy. That's absolute. I wouldn't even do that to a child."

Just minutes later, he changed his tune, blamed Gonzalez, and admitted he knew the boy was in pain the whole time.

"He was kind of like clenching, saying, 'Dad. Dad,'" said Gorman.

"Earlier you said he was crying," said a police investigator. "Was he crying when you were doing it?"

"Well, he was not like tears crying," said Gorman. "But like (sobbing sounds), you know what I'm talking about?

"He was sobbing?" asked the investigator.

"Yeah, sobbing," Gorman replied.

Defense attorneys are hoping a new tactic will make the confession meaningless.

Prosecutors charged Gorman and Gonzalez with aggravated mayhem, which is partly defined as intentionally disfiguring someone. They argue the tattoo amounts to an intentional disfigurement, and therefore, a life sentence.

But defense attorneys say it's no worse than circumcision and asked the boy's own pediatrician about the comparison.

"If you have removal of a foreskin then that looks disfigured," said Dr. Carmela Sosa.

"That's your point of view?" asked defense attorney Manuel Nieto.

"I think it's a point of view," the doctor said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not consider routine circumcisions to be medically necessary. So, attorneys say Wednesday's argument could open up a whole legal can of worms.

The prosecution rested its case Wednesday afternoon. The defense takes over Thursday and both defendants are listed as possible witnesses.

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