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Judge in Marshall defendent's case rules kidnapping, assault 'heinous'

OLIVIA -- Matthew Fahey's abduction and sexual assault of a young newspaper carrier met the legal standards for "heinous,'' and other aggravating factors were present in the commission of the crimes, according to a ruling issued on Monday by District Judge Randall Slieter in Olivia.

The ruling means that Fahey, 25, originally of Fairfax and more recently of Marshall, fa-ces a mandatory life sentence in prison.

Fahey pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to charges of criminal sexual predatory conduct, kidnapping, and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.

He had been charged for abducting and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl as she was delivering newspapers on the morning of May 4 in Fairfax.

With his admission of guilt at the start of his trial, the issue for the court became whether or not "heinous elements'' and other aggravating factors were present in the commission of the crimes.

In finding heinous elements, the judge ruled that the girl had escaped from Fahey, and was not released by him after the assault as his attorneys had argued. The judge also found that the escape along a rural roadway did not constitute a release at a safe place, the second factor used in determining whether the offense was heinous.

The finding of heinous elements and aggravating factors will be used by the judge in determining when Fahey will be eligible to apply for parole. The judge will decide whether the factors justify a more severe sentence than would normally be recommended by sentencing guidelines, and consequently delay the date at which he could apply for parole.

Renville County assistant attorney Glen Jacobson had argued that the crime included heinous elements and that aggravating factors, including the disparity in age and size between Fahey and girl, warranted a more severe sentence. Fahey is 6 feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds, while the girl is 5 feet tall and weighs less than 120 pounds.

The girl, now age 15, had testified that she resisted Fahey but knew that he had physical control. He had blocked her path with his car and forced her into it as she did her newspaper route. According to her testimony, he had threatened to break her arm, said he had a gun, pushed her head below the car dashboard, and threatened to harm her sister while driving her to the site where the assault occurred.

The girl testified that she had escaped after the assault by jumping out of his car as it was moving. She said Fahey drove a short distance away, tossed the pieces of her cell phone into a field, drove by her and said he was sorry before continuing on his way.

Fahey testified that he had let her out of the car, and that he had placed the phone pieces on the side of the road a short distance away after telling her he would do so. His attorneys also argued that he had signaled his intentions to release her when telling her that she should tell police officers that her assailant was a black man.

The girl managed to put the phone back together and summon help.

Fahey was taken into custody on the day of the assault, and remains in the Renville County Jail awaiting sentencing. It is scheduled for April 27.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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