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Bradenton woman convicted in sex-on-the-beach case must register as sex offender

BRADENTON -- A Bradenton woman convicted of having sex in public in Bradenton Beach was sentenced Wednesday to time served.

Elissa Alvarez, 20, and Jose Caballero, 40, were found guilty May 4 of lewd and lascivious exhibition for having sex in public, including in front of a 3-year-old child.

Alvarez accepted the state-recommended sentence during a hearing originally meant to discuss setting a sentencing date.

Alvarez, with long ties to Bradenton, has been embarrassed by the ordeal, according to defense attorney Greg Hagopian.

"We have a 20-year-old young lady who made some poor choices and the consequences, which she never, ever intended; she never intended for this to hurt anybody, for any children to be involved -- and now she has to live with this the rest of her life," Hagopian said outside the courthouse. "She's been designated a sex offender so for the rest of her life, as it stands now, she has to report and be treated as a child molester."

Alvarez, in custody since being found guilty May 4, was returned to Manatee County jail, from where she was later released.

Because of her lack of criminal history, Alvarez's conviction was withheld but she will still have to register as a sex offender unless she appeals.

"To say she has learned her lesson would be an understatement," Hagopian said.

Alvarez will explore her options to appeal the case, he added.

Prosecutors said they are recommending that Caballero be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. He will be sentenced July 6.

Assistant State Attorney Anthony DaFonseca said several factors contributed to the recommended sentences for Alvarez and Caballero.

"We had a real good tone of what to give Ms. Alvarez after the case was over in terms of the testimony that came out, which created a vast difference in the demeanor that Mr. Caballero reacted to the fellow beachgoers versus the demeanor of Ms. Alvarez and how she reacted," DaFonseca said.

Alvarez's jailhouse calls to family also demonstrated she had changed, he added.

Caballero, won't be given the same benefit of the doubt because of his prior criminal history, he added. Caballero served eight years in prison for a cocaine trafficking conviction.

Defense attorney Ron Kurpiers said in court he was not prepared to proceed with Caballero's sentencing.

Outside the courthouse, Kurpiers said Caballero was grateful and relieved by the state recommendation in comparison to the maximum 15 years he could have faced. Kurpiers indicated they would accept the recommended prison time.

"We'd be stupid not to agree to that, but there are some other factors. The whole sex offender thing is a big issue. A period of probation is an issue that we still have to talk about to see if we can work it out," Kurpiers said. "The family has a right to be here. Mr. Caballero has a right to have his family here and we still have things in the works."

Each conviction carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, but State Attorney Ed Brodsky has said he would not seek it.

Caballero will remain in custody at the Manatee County jail until sentencing.

Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, contributed to this report.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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