A judge has denied a request to dismiss charges and to reduce the $500,000 bond for a Los Lunas man charged with 27 felony counts that include charges of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping and sexual exploitation of a child.
District Court Judge Kenneth Brown denied 35-year-old Thomas Dietrich’s requests Thursday morning at an arraignment hearing.
Dietrich, who has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, was indicted by a grand jury on the felony counts last month.
Dietrich’s attorney, Kathleen Rhinehart, argued that, because she didn’t get a copy of the amended indictment until Thursday morning and that the 15-day rule had run out, the charges against her client should be dismissed.
“The state didn’t file a motion for enlargement, and my client has been in custody since July 8,” Rhinehart told Brown. “I have not received a single piece of paper about this case from the district attorney’s office.”
According to state law, a defendant must be arraigned 15 days after an indictment has been filed. Rhinehart argued that because the district attorney’s office failed to request more time, the charges against Dietrich should be dismissed.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Lopez said his office wasn’t at fault, pointing out that Rhinehart had been out of town and that both Judge William Sanchez and Judge John Pope had recused themselves from the case. Lopez told Brown that the arraignment was scheduled as soon as a judge was assigned the case.
Lopez also told Brown that the amended indictment does not consist of any additional counts — only that the charges were put in a sequential order.
“The grand jury added charges to the original criminal complaint because they saw the severity of the charges,” Lopez said.
After Brown denied Rhinehart’s motions, Dietrich, dressed in a tan prison uniform, stood up and pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The former juvenile correction officer at Camino Nuevo in Albuquerque and former Valencia County Adult Probation and Parole Officer has been charged with seven counts of criminal sexual penetration, five counts of kidnapping, five counts of sexual exploitation of a child, 10 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, one count of enticement of a child and one count of criminal sexual contact of a child.
“This defendant is a depraved sexual predator who preys on young children,” Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Garcia told the judge. “I believe he poses grave danger to the citizens in Valencia County, N.M., and to young children. He is also considered to be a flight risk.”
Rhinehart disagreed, saying Dietrich is a lifelong resident of Valencia County, has a good work history and has no criminal record. Rhinehart asked Brown to set a $50,000 cash or surety bond with a 10 percent property option.
“Mr. Dietrich’s life has been destroyed at this point,” she said. “Given the fact that he’s not a flight risk, there are other ways to monitor him, such as with house arrest or an ankle bracelet. He is not a flight risk or a threat to society. A $500,000 cash only bond is outrageous.”
According to the grand jury indictment filed in district court, Dietrich is accused of abusing three different boys over a six-year period.
Dietrich was arrested and charged after a teenage boy told Los Lunas Detective James Harris that Dietrich had sexually abused him on numerous occasions.
During his investigation, Harris said, he found pictures on Dietrich’s home computer that allegedly exhibited adolescent boys in sexually-explicit acts.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.