Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Victim said she lied, but not about details

18-year-old man awaits sentencing after pleading guilty March 19

Eighteen-year-old Mark Allen Karlovich remains incarcerated on $500,000 bond after being convicted of the rape of two 14-year-old girls. He is shown here at a March 19 hearing in Blaine County 5th District Court at which he pleaded guilty to a single count of rape. Photo by Willy Cook

One of the 14-year-old victims of confessed rapist Mark Allen Karlovich admitted at a preliminary hearing that she was not completely truthful with Hailey police in their investigation of the case in October.

However, the girl testified under oath at the same hearing that regardless of her earlier lie to police, she was still forced against her will to have sexual intercourse with 18-year-old Karlovich.

Karlovich, a former Wood River High School student, pleaded guilty to a single count of rape in Blaine County 5th District Court on March 19. In exchange for his guilty plea, a second count of rape, committed while he was free on bail in the first case, was dismissed. However, the single-count criminal complaint against him, referred to as an “information” in district court, states that he committed rape against both girls.

Karlovich is currently being held in the Blaine County jail on $500,000 bond. Sentencing is scheduled for June 3. The crime of rape in Idaho is punishable by up to life in prison.

According to a Hailey police report, the girl initially told investigating officer Raul Ornelas that she left her home for a bike ride at about 1 a.m. on Oct. 10 because she was “restless and wanting to go do something to not be at home.” After riding around for a while, the girl told police, she rode past Karlovich’s home on Queen of the Hills Drive and he called out her name and she stopped to see who was talking to her.

However, at the preliminary hearing, held in Blaine County Magistrate Court on Oct. 30, the girl changed her story as to how she came to be with Karlovich that evening. According to hearing minutes, the girl admitted that she was acquainted with Karlovich, communicating with him through Facebook, and that she intentionally went to his home that evening.

Regarding the visit, the hearing minutes state that the “[w]itness comments she was hesitant because she didn’t know Mr. Karlovich very well, but she was curious about him. She thought maybe he could be a friend.”

The girl testified that she did not initially tell Ornelas the truth when he questioned her about the incident.

According to the hearing minutes, the girl testified that “the story she told officer Raul was a different story than the one she ended up telling him later. The first story was not true at the beginning, but everything that happened inside the defendant’s house was true.”

The girl further testified that she initially lied to Ornelas because “she was scared about her parents finding out that she had snuck out to see Mr. Karlovich.”

The girl’s accounts of what happened once she was with Karlovich are mainly consistent in Ornelas’ probable-cause affidavit and in the minutes from the preliminary hearing. Both give graphic details of what happened, but basically the girl reported that she was forced into Karlovich’s home, that he placed his hand on her mouth to keep her quiet and that he continually held her down or by the arms when having sexual intercourse with her.

Ornelas reported in his probable-cause affidavit that Karlovich confessed during an initial interview to having sexual intercourse with the girl, but said she was a willing participant.

Consent by a victim under the age of 16 is not relevant under Idaho law to a perpetrator’s being charged with the crime of rape.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Judge Jason Walker ruled that enough evidence existed against Karlovich to bind the case over to the higher district court for further prosecution.

Karlovich initially pleaded not guilty at district court arraignment but changed his plea at the hearing on March 19.

In accord with the plea agreement, the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will recommend to Judge Robert Elgee at sentencing that Karlovich receive a 10-year prison sentence, with three years to be served before parole eligibility. Defense attorney Douglas Nelson cannot, according to the agreement, argue for less than sentencing to the Idaho Department of Correction “rider program,” under which convicted felons are given an opportunity for rehabilitation. Rider sentences can last for six months to a year at the discretion of the Department of Correction.

Elgee is not bound by either recommendation and can pronounce sentence at his own discretion.

Terry Smith:

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