Trial date set in Noriega-Avila case

Trial expected to last three days as defendant faces sexual assault charges
By: 
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

A trial date has been set for a Pulaski man originally arrested in 2016 on charges that he’d sexually assaulted his then-stepdaughter.

Pedro Noriega-Avila was back in court April 10 for a pre-trial conference, at which time defense attorney Joe Furnstahl requested to go to trial. A plea deal had been offered in February by the Shawano-Menominee County District Attorney’s Office, but there was no resolution, according to Furnstahl.

The trial, which is expected to last three days, will begin at 8:15 a.m. July 17 in Branch II of the Shawano County Courthouse. A final pre-trial was scheduled for 10 a.m. June 24.

This is the second time a jury trial has been scheduled in Noriega-Avila’s case. He was originally scheduled to stand trial in August 2023 on one count of sexual assault of a child under age 13, two counts of sexual assault of a child and two counts of incest with a child by stepparent. The trial was halted after his attorney at the time stepped down due to being in the late stages of pregnancy and disagreement with her client on defense strategies.

Since then, Noriega-Avila had been without representation. Court records show James Scoenecker was appointed Jan. 4 to represent the defendant, and Furnstahl was also appointed on Feb. 1.

The criminal complaint states that Noriega-Avila allegedly went into his stepdaughter’s room between September 2009 and June 2010 and assaulted her. It goes on to say that additional incidents occurred in 2014 and 2015. Noriega-Avila married the victim’s mother on July 9, 2010.

Noriega-Avila initially appeared before Kussel on June 10, 2016, and subsequently posted a $5,000 cash bond. Noriega-Avila was then ordered to appear on June 20, 2016, but he did not show up, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Noriega-Avila faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and $100,000 fine for each of the incest counts and the latter two sexual assault counts. For the child sexual assault in 2010, he faces up to 60 years in prison.

Noriega-Avila was missing from the court for almost five years until his arrest in Arizona in 2021. Law enforcement responded to a U.S. Border Patrol station on March 13, 2021, regarding the warrant issued by the Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court for Noriega-Avila, and the defendant was already in custody when officers arrived.

In April 2021, extradition documents were issued by the county for Noriega-Avila, who was brought back to Shawano County in July 2021.

Noriega-Avila remains in the Shawano County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond. He has been incarcerated for over 2 1/2 years, mainly because of the difficulty in finding an attorney the first time around. It took until late 2022 before Stertz was found to handle the case.

lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com