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Thu, April 18

Castaneda gets no retrial

PRESCOTT – Three months after a partial mistrial in a same-sex rape case, prosecutor John Erickson said the state will not re-try sexual assault charges against 35-year-old Prescott resident Richard Roy Castaneda.

Judge William Kiger, who oversaw the September trial, dismissed those charges without prejudice Thursday during a hearing in which he sentenced Castaneda to two years in prison and six months in the county jail for his conviction on the lesser-included charges of assault and unlawful restraint.

Castaneda has been in jail for 327 days since his Jan. 24 arrest for beating a 23-year-old man who also said Castaneda raped him. The time he has served already satisfies the six-month term for assault, and earns him 147 days of credit against the two-year sentence for unlawful imprisonment, a Class 6 felony. Both sentences are aggravated terms, a decision Kiger said he based on the severity of the beating and Castaneda's past criminal record, which includes a 1984 felony conviction and a DUI.

Kiger emphasized that he did not consider another incident in Castaneda's past, a 1986 homicide indictment that resulted in an acquittal, in determining the sentence.

"In a situation like this case," he said, "I do not believe that case should be considered in any shape or form."

Castaneda's attorney, Ken Ray, agreed with that analysis, but pondered the fairness of an aggravated term on the other charges, considering the fact that a jury found the beating, which left the victim nearly unrecognizable, to be a misdemeanor offense.

"They saw the same evidence you did, judge," Ray said, "and they came to the conclusion that the assault was a misdemeanor and the kidnapping was unlawful restraint."

Ray further asked Kiger to dismiss the more serious charges against his client with prejudice, a ruling that would bar the state from reviving them in the future.

He implied that prosecutors might later reach for a reason to keep Castaneda behind bars.

"Mr. Castaneda and I have a great concern that, in about a year, these charges could be resurrected," he said.

Erickson said his decision to drop the sexual assault charges came after discussion with jurors in the first trial and a search for new evidence that could put his case over the top. He said it was unlikely that anything would surface that would convince him to re-try the case, but asked the judge to keep the door open, just in case.

Castaneda must also pay $541 in restitution.

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