Crime - Sacto 911

Man convicted of 2012 sexual assault in North Highlands

A Sacramento County jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday against a man accused of kidnapping and and sexually assaulting a woman in North Highlands in 2012.

Francis Palacio, 26, was convicted of seven charges, including forcible sexual intercourse and kidnapping for the purpose of committing rape. The jury also found true allegations that Palacio kidnapped the victim during the commission of each offense, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release.

On July 13 2012, the victim was walking on Walerga Road near Kirkby Way when Palacio stopped her to ask what she was doing in the area. After a brief conversation, he pushed her over the guardrail at the side of the road, got on top of her and began strangling her, officials said. When she screamed and attempted to wave for help, Palacio dragged her down the embankment out of view of passing traffic. He then sexually assaulted her and kicked her in the head multiple times before fleeing.

The woman called 911, and Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies responded but were unable to find Palacio. He later was identified as a suspect through DNA analysis performed by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s crime lab.

Palacio is to be sentenced Feb. 21 by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Maryanne Gilliard.