ELLSWORTH - A Pierce County jury last week acquitted a 27-year-old man accused of stalking women in River Falls. Jurors deliberated for less than three hours Friday, Dec. 2, before finding Ricardo A. Moreno not guilty of four counts of felony stalking and one count of disorderly conduct.

The River Falls man was charged last April after multiple women came forward with similar accounts of being approached by a man who inquired about adult stores and showed them porn on his cellphone. But defense attorney Chris Petros argued in court that Moreno’s alleged actions didn’t fit the crimes for which he was charged. In order to convict someone of stalking, state law requirements include at least two separate instances of harassing or threatening behavior per person. Petros said the allegations against Moreno involved “very short periods of time” with each woman and that his client never went back after them. “Even if everything on there is true,” Petros said, referring to allegations Pierce County Attorney Sean Froelich had written out on an easel displayed for the jury, “that’s not stalking.” Reached for comment after the verdict, Petros said his original argument seemed to hold up with the jury. “I don’t think they had the evidence to prove it,” he said. Witnesses who testified at the two-day trial described how their encounters with the suspect left them troubled. A 28-year-old River Falls woman said she was sitting on a swing by herself in July 2015 at Glen Park when a man approached her and started chatting her up. The man pulled out a phone and asked her if she liked to watch adult videos. The woman identified the suspect as Moreno. “The situation was really uncomfortable,” the woman said. “That’s when I got up and left.” She said she went straight to her car and sped off to Dick’s Hometown Liquor store, where she knew a clerk. Moreno followed her as she left the park, but she evaded him. The woman said the situation left her concerned for her safety and harassed. “I didn’t know what his intentions were,” she said. “I sped off. I got out of there as fast as I could. Froelich later probed details of the encounter to determine how many times Moreno might have approached her. She said he circled her, then approached her from the front. River Falls Police investigator Ryan Miller also testified at the trial. He said Moreno became the suspect after officers connected him with vehicle descriptions given by witnesses in the encounters, which included two other incidents. Miller said he questioned Moreno and he admitted to approaching women and showing them porn videos on “one or two” occasions. Moreno said he’d been having problems in his marriage and approached the women to see “if I’ve still got it,” Miller said in court. For the complete story, see the Dec. 8 print issue of the River Falls Journal.ELLSWORTH - A Pierce County jury last week acquitted a 27-year-old man accused of stalking women in River Falls.Jurors deliberated for less than three hours Friday, Dec. 2, before finding Ricardo A. Moreno not guilty of four counts of felony stalking and one count of disorderly conduct.

The River Falls man was charged last April after multiple women came forward with similar accounts of being approached by a man who inquired about adult stores and showed them porn on his cellphone.But defense attorney Chris Petros argued in court that Moreno’s alleged actions didn’t fit the crimes for which he was charged.In order to convict someone of stalking, state law requirements include at least two separate instances of harassing or threatening behavior per person.Petros said the allegations against Moreno involved “very short periods of time” with each woman and that his client never went back after them.“Even if everything on there is true,” Petros said, referring to allegations Pierce County Attorney Sean Froelich had written out on an easel displayed for the jury, “that’s not stalking.”Reached for comment after the verdict, Petros said his original argument seemed to hold up with the jury.“I don’t think they had the evidence to prove it,” he said.Witnesses who testified at the two-day trial described how their encounters with the suspect left them troubled.A 28-year-old River Falls woman said she was sitting on a swing by herself in July 2015 at Glen Park when a man approached her and started chatting her up. The man pulled out a phone and asked her if she liked to watch adult videos.The woman identified the suspect as Moreno.“The situation was really uncomfortable,” the woman said. “That’s when I got up and left.”She said she went straight to her car and sped off to Dick’s Hometown Liquor store, where she knew a clerk. Moreno followed her as she left the park, but she evaded him.The woman said the situation left her concerned for her safety and harassed.“I didn’t know what his intentions were,” she said. “I sped off. I got out of there as fast as I could.Froelich later probed details of the encounter to determine how many times Moreno might have approached her. She said he circled her, then approached her from the front.River Falls Police investigator Ryan Miller also testified at the trial. He said Moreno became the suspect after officers connected him with vehicle descriptions given by witnesses in the encounters, which included two other incidents.Miller said he questioned Moreno and he admitted to approaching women and showing them porn videos on “one or two” occasions.Moreno said he’d been having problems in his marriage and approached the women to see “if I’ve still got it,” Miller said in court.For the complete story, see the Dec. 8 print issue of the River Falls Journal.

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