Laurel police helped close a sexual assault case and convict a man they began tracking nearly five years ago.
In a Washington, D.C., court, Enrique Menendez, 49, of Laurel was sentenced on March 14 to 20 years in federal prison for the first-degree sexual assault of a 9-year-old Laurel boy. Menendez’s attorney, James Klein, filed an appeal on March 25, according to court documents.
Menendez was arrested in July of 2011 and charged with assaulting the child in several locations in Laurel and in Washington, D.C, said Audrey Barnes, Laurel’s communication director.
Laurel investigators testified in the week-long trial and provided critical evidence to the case, said Sgt. Eric Lynn, of the Laurel Police Department.
Lynn said city investigators first became involved with the case in 2009.
“We investigated the entire case, from start to finish,” he said. “The [evidence we found] played a large role [in the trial].”
Laurel police carried out several search warrants that included gathering DNA evidence from Menendez’s house, Lynn said.
Lynn said the case took a long time because of the seriousness of the charges as well as complications with the Washington, D.C., court system, and that he has never personally seen a case remain open that long.
“This is a four-year-old case that my officers constantly worked,” said Richard McLaughlin, Laurel police chief. “They were diligent about the collection, preservation and submission of all evidence. Their testimony helped convict the suspect.”
McLaughlin said sexual assault cases are not common in Laurel and that the majority of investigations do not last up to four years.
“It’s a perfect example of how perseverance can help solve cases,” McLaughlin said. “These detectives never gave up. And now finally, justice for this child.”