Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Accused child molester pleads guilty

Prosecutor recommends 10 years in prison


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Sentencing scheduled for June 26 for accused child molester

A Hailey man accused of molesting a 4-year-old girl pleaded guilty in Blaine County 5th District Court Tuesday afternoon to lewd conduct with a minor child under 16.

Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan, 23, admitted to the crime as part of a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which will recommend that the defendant be sentenced to 10 years in prison, four of them to be served before he's eligible for parole.

Presiding Judge Barry Wood explained to Ricaldi-Villajuan that he his not bound by the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney's office and could impose a maximum sentence of up to life in prison.

Defense attorney David Pena told Wood that he advised his client to plead guilty even though the case has "been a bit problematic for me."

"Mr. Ricaldi was very intoxicated the night the alleged incident occurred," Pena said. "It appears something happened there, but he tells me he has no recollection of what happened because he was so intoxicated.

"This guilty plea is offered with an eye and expectation of my client getting a psychosexual evaluation and that that evaluation will come out favorable for my client."

Deputy Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Warrren Christiansen said Ricaldi-Villajuan has no prior convictions or other charges pending.

The guilty plea came on the eve of a jury trial on the case, which was scheduled to start today in 5th District Court.

Ricaldi-Villajuan, who court records say is suspected of being an illegal alien, has been incarcerated in the Blaine County Jail on $50,000 bond since his arrest on Nov. 11, 2006, when Hailey police were called to a home on Winterhaven Drive. The mother of the alleged victim reported that she found Ricaldi-Villajuan in a bedroom with her 4-year-old daughter and that the child's pants had been removed.

The criminal complaint against the defendant accuses him of "manual to genital contact and, or genital to genital contact" with the child.

A Spanish-speaker interpreter was present at Tuesday's hearing to help Ricaldi-Villajuan with communications with the court.

Wood scheduled sentencing for 1:30 p.m. June 26.




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