Despite admission, sex offender pleads not guilty to rape

An unregistered sex offender accused of raping one woman and attempting to kidnap another, pleaded not guilty Monday despite admitting the crimes to police.

Farmington resident Darius Gonzales, 27, faces felony charges of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

If convicted on all charges in District Court, Gonzales faces as many as 27 years in prison, plus sentencing enhancements based on previous convictions, unlisted in New Mexico.

Gonzales, a known sex offender who was wanted by police for not registering his local address on Culpepper Lane, is accused of raping a woman in his house at gunpoint around 11:30 a.m. Oct. 24.

The victim said she was lured to the house with drugs. Gonzales later pulled a handgun on her in the bedroom where he raped her, she told police.

Hours earlier, Gonzales was accused of holding another woman at gunpoint and trying to get her into his van in the parking lot of the East Main Street Wal-Mart around 3:45 a.m.

After refusing to get in the van, that victim was able to escape and report the incident to Wal-Mart security.

Farmington police officers arrested Gonzales at his neighbor’s house that same day, after watching his residence following the criminal reports.

In a police interview, Gonzales admitted trying to get the victim outside Wal-Mart into his van, the police report states.

“He advised he knew she was scared and was going to take her in the van but did not know where he was going to take her and what he was going to do with her,” arrest documents state.

Gonzales also admitted to raping his other victim and duct-taping her eyes and hands.

“He advised (the victim) had told him no while she was pinned against the bedroom wall and said he understood that she did not want to have sex with him,” arrest documents state.

Public defender Ruth Wheeler said more research needs to be done on the case before she settles for a guilty plea.

“For the moment, especially in a case like this where investigation needs to take place, it’s just not proper procedure to just plead guilty,” she said.

Instead, she will look for more information on the case, and the possibility of a plea bargain.

“I don’t know what his statements to police were because I haven’t seen them,” she said, noting the case wasn’t filed in District Court until just before Thanksgiving.

Defense attorneys often plead not guilty to maintain their right to appeal a case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien said.

“No matter how straight forward (a case) is, there’s always incentives from the state’s perspective to offer some kind of plea in return for them not having the right to appeal a case and, consequently, having another trial and dragging it on for even longer,” O’Brien said.

But having a legal admission of guilt certainly ups the district attorney’s hand, he said.

“It increases the likelihood of our success at trial so much that it gives us far more leverage when we’re negotiating the plea,” O’Brien said.

No plea deal had been made Monday for Gonzales.

Published in: on December 13, 2007 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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