Given that she drugged her own 4-year-old niece in preparation for her husband to rape the toddler on film and even encouraged him to "put it in her butt," it's no surprise that Orange County's Sheila Marie Sikat
made shameless arguments to overturn her 50-year prison sentence.
According to Sikat, she can't be guilty of filming a minor sexually because state law requires the victim to be conscious in order to pose or model in the porn. Authorities found more than 50 homemade videos the couple made while raping and sodomizing minors as young as eight months old. To win compliance, they mixed Rohypnol, the powerful sedative that produces amnesia, in drinks they forced the kids to consume. At trial, Sikat's defense claimed that she was unaware of the drugging, assumed the victims were merely "heavy sleepers," and couldn't be responsible for the sex crimes because she had been drugged too by her husband, David Hwang.
Jurors who testified at the sentencing hearing didn't buy it. Said one, "a little girl . . . awakens in the middle of being brutally raped by some thing that goes beyond description, certainly not worthy of being included in the category of human being." Another juror said Sikat's recorded participation in the crimes meant she is "totally devoid of conscience." Her pastor, Dr. Vince Arnoldo, however, asked Superior Court Judge Gary Paer to release Sikat without a day in prison so she could "serve the people she wronged." And the woman's family said the only monster in the case was Hwang.
Judge Paer observed to Sikat's family at the sentencing hearing, "People want the death penalty for your sister."
According to Sikat's appeal, that comment (and a few others outlining the sex crimes and public reaction to blog coverage of the trial) demonstrated that Paer was unfit to render an unbiased punishment.
But this week a three-justice panel at the court of appeal rejected all of Sikat's arguments and affirmed her convictions as well as her punishment.
"The trial court's conduct furnishes no reason to overturn the defendant's sentence," they wrote.
Hwang, a former engineer from Rancho Santa Margarita, is serving a 50 years to life sentence.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly