Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sex-crime guilty plea could reduce sentence

24-year-old man admits to having sex with 17-year-old girl


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Gustavo Delacruz Saldana

A 24-year-old Peruvian national admitted in court Monday to committing a felony sex crime earlier this year against a 17-year-old Ketchum girl.

At arraignment Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court, Gustavo Delacruz Saldana pleaded guilty to a single count of "sexual battery of a minor child 16 or 17 years of age." In exchange for his guilty plea, the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office agreed to have two other counts of the same crime dismissed.

Judge Robert J. Elgee advised Saldana that the crime is punishable by up to life in prison.

In a case investigated by the Ketchum and Hailey police departments, Saldana was charged with the crimes for allegedly committing sex acts with the girl on three occasions earlier this year. He was arrested and charged in November and has been incarcerated since then in the Blaine County jail on $25,000 bond.

An immigration detainer filed by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency accuses Saldana of being in the United States illegally.

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At Monday's court hearing, Hailey attorney Douglas Werth, assigned as public defender, said that under the terms of the plea agreement the prosecutor's office will recommend at sentencing that Saldana "spend not more than one year in the county jail." Further, Werth said the prosecutor's office will recommend a suspended four-year prison sentence.

Once released from custody, Werth said, Saldana "would be deported."

In pleading guilty, Saldana admitted to having sexual intercourse with the girl in Hailey on Oct. 24.

"I made a mistake and I would like to pay for the consequences," Saldana told the judge.

Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 30.

Saldana was prosecuted under a recently enacted Idaho law that makes having sex with a 16- or 17-year-old girl a crime only if the perpetrator is at least five years older than the victim.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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