Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trial postponed in sex-crime case

Court mum on reason for delay

Express Staff Writer

Marcelino B. Baeza

    More than 100 prospective jurors dutifully showed up for jury duty Monday in a Blaine County 5th District Court felony sex-crime case, but all of them were dismissed from service after roll call was taken, a procedure that lasted about 10 minutes.
    Judge Robert J. Elgee did not state a reason for cancelling the trial for Bellevue resident Marcelino B. Baeza, other than to say “something came up at the last minute.”
    Neither Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback nor defense attorney Douglas Nelson would provide a reason for the postponement to the Idaho Mountain Express.
    Fredback acknowledged that a plea agreement had not been reached with Baeza, which is the usual reason that jury trials are canceled the day the trial is set to begin.
    “The judge ordered the trial could not be held, but I can’t discuss the reasons,” Fredback said.
    “Something came up at the last second so he sent them home, but I can’t talk about it,” said Nelson. “The reason would tell you something about the case that I don’t want made public. We’re going to have a status hearing in a couple of weeks and then reset it for trial.”
    Court records state that a scheduling conference has now been set for 1:30 p.m. on May 6.
    Baeza, 45, is charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a child under 16, a crime in Idaho punishable by up to life in prison.
    Baeza was originally arrested on July 2, 2013, in a joint operation between the Bellevue Marshal’s Office and the Hailey Police Department. Hailey police Lt. Steve England reported then that Baeza was accused of sexually abusing a 5-year-old girl.
    The charge was changed to two counts of lewd conduct with a child when a Blaine County grand jury indictment was issued against Baeza on July 16, 2013.
    Baeza, who was assisted in court on Monday by a Spanish-speaking interpreter, remains free on $100,000 bond.

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