Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Child molester gets 25 years in prison

Cochachi-Macha faces deportation once released from prison

Express Staff Writer

A tearful Robert Cochachi-Macha is escorted from 5th District Court in Hailey on Monday after being sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 7-year-girl last summer. Flanking Cochachi-Macha is Blaine County Detention Deputy Andrew Schiers and court Bailiff Doug Wynn. Photo by Willy Cook

Robert Cochachi-Macha broke into tears while making a statement in court Monday about a sex crime he committed last summer. He then slumped into his chair, banged his head on a table and cried while public defender Keith Roark patted him on the back in an effort to console.

Cochachi-Macha, a 26-year-old Peruvian national, had reason to cry. He admitted to sexual interactions with a 7-year-old girl and will now spend at least 11 years in prison to pay for his crime.

Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee sentenced Cochachi-Macha to 25 years behind bars for the felony crime of lewd conduct with a child under 16. He will be required to serve at least 11 years before becoming eligible for parole. Once released, he will likely be deported.

The victim's mother attended Monday's sentencing hearing but did not testify. It is the second time she has seen a Peruvian man sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting her daughter.

In 2007, Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan, now 27, was sentenced to up to 20 years for lewd conduct against the same girl when she was only 4. After serving the three-year fixed portion of his sentence, Ricaldi-Villajuan was released from prison and deported in late 2009.

Cochachi-Macha committed his lewd act upon the girl on July 16, 2010. According to Hailey police, he sexually assaulted the girl in a room he was renting from a relative of hers at the Balmoral Apartments complex in the Woodside area of Hailey.

A Blaine County grand jury indicted Cochachi-Macha on three felony charges—rape, lewd conduct and sexual assault. The rape and sexual assault charges were dismissed after Cochachi-Macha pleaded guilty to lewd conduct last December.

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At Monday's sentencing hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback described the crime as "extremely violent and heinous."

"The defendant continually minimizes his actions," Fredback said. "He denies responsibility and puts some of the responsibility on the 7-year-old girl. He's shown little remorse for the victim or her family."

Roark, who was assigned the case through his public defender contract with Blaine County, noted that Cochachi-Macha has no prior convictions other than traffic offenses and with the exception of sexually assaulting the girl has "lived an exemplary life."

"He's managed to stay employed. He's managed to send money home to his children," Roark said.

Roark noted that Cochachi-Macha comes from a different culture "thousands of miles away" and has had "a very difficult time understanding these proceedings."

"He's embarrassed by what happened," Roark said. "This man knows what he did. He's had a very hard time coming to grips with it. He understands what he did was wrong."

Cochachi-Macha asked the court for forgiveness.

"I've never had this problem before," he said, speaking through a court interpreter. "I'd like you to forgive me for the things I've done. I'm very sorry for the victim. I promise you that I will never do anything bad again in my life."

Roark asked for a five-year fixed prison sentence, but Elgee decided on a harsher penalty.

"I would agree with Mr. Fredback that he's not willing to admit what really happened," Elgee said. "There does not seem to be much feeling of empathy for the victim.

"He did damage to a very young victim that will cause her harm the rest of her life. The court considers this a very serious crime."

Terry Smith:

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