Surveillance footage from 2009 shows Adrian Cruz, on trial and accused of kidnapping, rape and sexual conduct with a minor, walking out of a Maricopa County Superior Court holding room. Maricopa County Superior Court


A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled that double jeopardy does not apply to a child rapist who argued that his identity could not be verified before sentencing because a jury found him not guilty of escape in another trial.

Adrian Cruz was sentenced to life in prison for raping and impregnating his girlfriend’s 9-year-old daughter in the back of an ice cream truck in 2004.

In 2009, he was back on trial for two more rapes when he took advantage of inattentive security personnel and walked away unnoticed from a court holding room during a lunch break. He was recaptured in Mexico and extradited to Phoenix in 2015.

He had been found guilty in absentia of kidnapping, rape and sexual conduct with a minor, but could not be legally sentenced until he was present in court. 

READ MORE: Man awaits rape sentence, but is it the right guy?

But first, in 2016, prosecutors tried him for the felony crime of escape for slipping out of the courtroom in 2009. The jurors in that case, without knowing details of his prior crimes, could not determine beyond a reasonable doubt that Cruz, who now calls himself Eleazar Cruz-Colin, was the man who escaped from trial. Cruz was acquitted of the escape charge.

During oral arguments before Judge Michael Gordon on July 28, Cruz’s defense attorney, Kevin Brady, agreed that the man who escaped was the man who was on trial for rape. But, he said, a Superior Court jury had determined his client was not that man.

Cruz-Colin has to be definitively identified as the rapist before he can be sentenced.

But even though DNA, fingerprints and other evidence exist that may definitively prove that Eleazar Cruz-Colin and Adrian Cruz are the same person, Brady argued that under a theory called collateral estoppel, prosecutors were barred from identifying Cruz as the convicted rape defendant because the escape jury had acquitted him. To do otherwise, he argued, could lead to double jeopardy.

In a decision dated Aug. 7, Gordon ruled that neither collateral estoppel nor double jeopardy applied because the escape and the rapes were two different cases and two different sets of crimes.

“Accordingly, this court finds that the state is not collaterally estopped from proving the defendant’s identity prior to sentencing,” he wrote. “The sentencing in the sexual assault case will proceed if the state is able to prove the defendant’s identity beyond a reasonable doubt without a risk of violating the double jeopardy clause.”


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