Before handing Nicholas Lopez a six-year sentence Friday, Montezuma District Court Judge Todd Plewe called Lopez a coward for refusing to make good on a promise he had made in his plea agreement.
Lopez, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault on a child after incidents between December 2013 and March 2015 involving a 9-year-old girl who was living with him at the time, according to court documents. In the plea deal, Lopez agreed to tell the court what he did, but on Friday refused to fulfill the promise.
Lopez’s attorney, Sara Hildebrand, said her client was kind, honest and determined to succeed in life. Plewe disagreed.
“You’re not honest,” Plewe told Lopez. “You’re not one bit honest.”
Plewe sentenced Lopez to six years of Department of Corrections incarceration with credit for 289 days that he has served in jail, as well as six years of probation. Lopez will be required to register as a sex offender, and he meets the criteria to be determined a sexually violent predator, Plewe said.
Hildebrand had filed a motion for Lopez to undergo a second pre-sentencing psychosexual evaluation. She said Lopez’s IQ was low enough to suggest he might have a developmental disability. Plewe said the potential for a developmental disability did not require the court to order a new evaluation, and he denied Hildebrand’s motion for continuance.
District Attorney Will Furse acknowledged the defense’s point of view but implored the judge to proceed to sentencing Friday. The victim sat in court Friday with several family members, and Furse said the family did not want the case to proceed to trial.
“They want this nightmare in their lives to be over,” Furse said.
A cousin of the victim read a prepared statement to the court on behalf of the victim. She said Lopez manipulated the victim into an adult relationship when she was looking for a male role model. Lopez caused the victim physical and emotional trauma, the cousin said. After the abuse, the victim was afraid to be alone, she said.
Hildebrand said Lopez also was a victim of abuse at age 12. Furse acknowledged that, but said it did not excuse the man’s actions.
Plewe said people close to the victim that should have protected her didn’t, allowing her to sleep in the same bed with Lopez. The judge said in his court experience people don’t plead guilty and agree to go to jail if they were innocent. Despite Lopez’s refusal to provide allocution, Plewe sentenced him in accordance with his plea deal.
“You’re a coward,” Plewe told Lopez.