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Fahey sentencing in Renville County postponed due to change in lawyer

OLIVIA -- Matthew Fahey's sentencing for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old newspaper carrier is being postponed until May 27, according to a decision announced Tuesday by the District Court in Renville County.

The delay was requested by Matthew Fahey's newly retained defense attorney, Richard Lee Swenson of Chaska. The attorney asked for time to review the case and prepare possible motions.

Fahey was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, just before the May 4 one-year anniversary of the assault for which he was convicted.

Asked about the family's reaction to the news, Renville County assistant attorney Glen Jacobsen said the girl and her family are anxious to have the sentencing and case behind them.

Fahey, 26, pleaded guilty on Jan. 25 to charges of criminal sexual predatory conduct, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.

The court subsequently ruled Feb. 9 that the abduction and assault met the legal standard for a "heinous'' offense, and that other aggravating factors were present in the commission of the crimes.

The conviction and subsequent ruling means the court must impose a mandatory life sentence.

However, the court must also set a date at which the defendant is eligible to apply for supervised release from prison. At a minimum, he would not be able to apply for release for 144 months, based on sentencing guidelines in effect at the time of the crime. The court could issue a sentence making him ineligible to apply for release for 400 months or more, according to Jacobsen.

Fahey had admitted that he had abducted the then 14-year-old newspaper carrier as she delivered papers in the early morning hours in Fairfax by blocking her path with his car and forcing her into it. He threatened to break her arm if she attempted to escape, pushed her head below the car dashboard, and said he had a gun as he drove to a rural cemetery where the assault occurred.

The girl testified that she escaped after the assault by jumping out of his car as it was moving. She said she re-assembled her cell phone that he had tossed into a field and summoned help.

Fahey testified that he had let her out of the car and had placed the phone alongside the road for her.

Testimony during the trial indicated that Fahey was high on a drug he smoked from a pop can, and that he was using medications for bipolar disorder. He had a previous indecent exposure offense in Brown County and law enforcement had received allegations of other sexual exhibition incidents by him in the preceding months as well.

Fahey had been represented by attorneys Joseph Parise and Curtis Reese with the state's public defenders office.

Tom Cherveny

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

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