“Criminalists work daily in California Department of Justice forensic labs to assist law enforcement officers and district attorney offices with their investigations. Having these professionals who have learned the science and have the tools, is invaluable to criminal justice and to victims who might otherwise never see their attackers prosecuted and/or convicted.” -CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
MODESTO – On October 11, 2021, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced that Christopher Michael Munson, 45, of Salida, was convicted of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14, rape by force or fear, willful failure to appear in court and an enhancement for committing a felony while out on bail.
On August 12, 2016, Oakdale Police Department officers were called to a local school where a 13-year-old girl reported that she had been sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. Both the victim and her mother knew Munson as “Christopher Lee Taylor.”
Munson had previously been convicted in Stanislaus County in 2000 of continuous sexual abuse of a child for which he served six years in state prison. He was required to register with law enforcement as a sex offender and he is listed on the Megan’s Law registry of sex offenders.
Munson used the false name “Christopher Lee Taylor” to conceal his past from the victim’s mother. Investigators from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and Oakdale Police Department eventually identified Munson by his real name and located him at his home in Salida. When SWAT officers approached him to make the arrest, he fled on foot and pulled a loaded handgun from his waistband. The officers, with the help of a K-9, were able to arrest him after a brief physical struggle. Initially, Munson was only charged being a felon in possession of a firearm and resisting arrest while detectives continued investigating the new sexual assault.
On June 5, 2018, when Munson arrived at court for a regularly scheduled hearing, Oakdale Police officers were waiting for him with a warrant for his DNA. When he learned that he might be remanded into custody on new charges, he ran from the courthouse and evaded pursuing officers by running through traffic. He was returned to custody months later and remained in custody on $1 million dollars bail after being arraigned on the new charges.
California Department of Justice criminalists who tested Munson’s DNA sample matched him to forensic evidence collected from the scene of the sexual assault.
Prior to trial, Munson pled guilty to the felon in possession of a firearm and resisting arrest charges. In September 2021, the sex assault case went to jury trial. Evidence presented during the two-week trial included testimony from the victim who described in detail how she was sexually assaulted by Munson. His prior victim was also allowed to testify about the continuous child sexual abuse she suffered that resulted in his conviction and prison sentence in 2000.
On October 7, 2021 after only one hour of deliberations, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all charges. Sentencing and victim impact statements are currently set for November 16, 2021. Munson faces a sentence of at least 25-years-to-life in state prison.