South Dakota man charged with sexually assaulting a girl in Willmar in 2008

·3 min read

Jul. 12—WILLMAR — A 36-year-old man from Huron, South Dakota, was taken into custody and charged with two felonies tied to the alleged rape of a minor girl in Willmar in April 2008.

Jamie Galicia Merino, who was 23 at the time of the incident and going by a different name, was charged with two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

According to the charges, the alleged victim was 15 at the time, and Galicia allegedly used force or coercion against her.

Galicia's first court appearance was Friday. His bail was set at $100,000 with no conditions, or $10,000 with conditions. Those conditions include not leaving Minnesota without written court approval, having no contact with the alleged victim, remaining law abiding and making all future court appearances. His next appearance is set for July 23.

According to court records, on April 28, 2008, two teenage girls went to the Willmar Kandi Mall. While there, two adult males, including Galicia, approached the girls and started talking to them, sharing they were from out of state and in Willmar for business. They offered the girls a ride back to the high school.

The alleged victim told police she was sitting in the back seat of the car with Galicia, while the other girl was in the front seat next to the driver. Galicia allegedly began kissing the victim and asked if she wanted to have sex. The girl said no, the documents said. Galicia then resumed his actions, eventually allegedly raping the girl in the back seat of the car.

The other girl confirmed those events and said she told the driver to "have him stop."

The two girls were dropped off at the high school, where a police officer and the principal were waiting, the court documents said. The girls reported what happened, and at the hospital an assault exam kit was completed and sealed for evidence.

At the time of the alleged crime, an investigation was opened, and contacts were made between the Willmar Police Department and the Huron, South Dakota, Police Department, with photos of possible suspects shared.

In March 2021, Willmar police were notified the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Lab had obtained a single-source male DNA profile from the sexual assault kit and that the profile would be entered into state and national databases.

In April 2021, the owner of the car was contacted and told law enforcement where to find the man who had been driving her car. The driver said he and Galicia had been in Willmar in April 2008, picked up the girls and the driver said he saw Galicia and the alleged victim kissing at one point, the documents said. The driver provided police with a DNA sample and showed them where Galicia was living and where he worked.

On April 30, 2021, law enforcement made contact with Galicia at his home. He said he was in Willmar in 2008 with the driver and they met two girls at the mall. He said he did not remember having sex with anyone, nor did he remember the girls' ages. He agreed to provide a DNA sample.

The two DNA samples were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for comparison against the unidentified male DNA profile. The BCA reported that Galicia's DNA matched the sample from the sexual assault kit.

A warrant for Galicia's arrest was issued June 29 and he was taken into custody on July 9.

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