Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Trial set for Veltex robbery suspect

Samudio to remain under house arrest

Express Staff Writer


A jury trial has been scheduled for Jan. 30, 2007, for Samuel Samudio, a Hailey teenager accused of using a shotgun last month to steal a 12-pack of beer from Veltex Market in Ketchum.

Samudio, 17, pleaded not guilty to three felony charges at his arraignment Tuesday before Blaine County 5th District Judge Robert Elgee. Samudio is charged with robbery, second-degree kidnapping and assault with intent to commit a serious felony.

In reviewing the charges, Elgee told Samudio that the penalties for conviction of the alleged crimes could include life in prison.

Elgee also denied a request from Samudio's attorney, Robert Fallowfield, to modify the conditions of Samudio's jail release to allow him to work. In addition, Elgee said he would consider ordering a county-funded mental evaluation of Samudio when he knows exactly what it will cost.

Samudio has been charged as an adult for allegedly using a 12-gauge shotgun to steal a 12-pack of beer from Veltex Market at about 4:40 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.

According to Ketchum police, he allegedly accosted two employees who were in the parking lot. One fled, but the second entered the store with Samudio, who was allegedly holding a shotgun on her.

He was arrested within a few minutes of the alleged robbery while hiding behind the store.

Samudio is currently free on $150,000 bail but under house arrest restrictions that require him to stay at his mother's home in Hailey.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Warren Christianson vehemently objected to a change in his house arrest status that would have allowed Samudio to work on construction projects with his father.

"Well, judge, I have a victim who's already enraged that (Samudio) could get out of jail in the first place and is unable to work herself," Christianson said. "This is a serious charge—he's suspected of shoving a shotgun in someone's face."

Elgee said he may consider changes to Samudio's release provisions at a later time but would not change them now.

Fallowfield requested a county-funded mental evaluation because he said Samudio cannot afford one himself. He said the evaluation should be done prior to trial so the results could be taken into consideration.

"To be frank, this is not a case of whether he did it. It's a case of what you're doing with him," Fallowfield said.

Samudio last week waived his right to a preliminary hearing, a court procedure wherein a magistrate court judge determines whether sufficient evidence exists to order a defendant tried in district court.

Samudio's trial is expected to last three days. A pretrial conference was scheduled for Jan. 22.

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