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Fahey enters not guilty pleas in abduction, sex assault case

OLIVIA -- Matthew Thomas Fahey, 25, entered not guilty pleas Friday in Renville County District Court to charges following the alleged abduction and sexual assault of a 14-year-old newspaper carrier May 4 in Fairfax.

A grand jury issued indictments May 20 against Fahey including charges of criminal sexual predatory conduct, kidnapping, and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

If convicted of the criminal sexual charges, Fahey, most recently of Marshall, could face a prison sentence ranging from a minimum of 144 months in prison to life in prison.

Fahey appeared in court in orange jail clothing, and quietly answered yes and no to questions. He remains in the Renville County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

A trial on the charges is scheduled to start Jan. 25. The date allows time for forensic evidence still being processed by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to be made available and analyzed by the defense. It also allows time for a ruling on issues raised at Friday's hearing.

District Judge Randall Slieter will be deciding on how allegations made in the case might be considered as aggravating factors in sentencing if the defendant is found guilty.

Prosecutor Glen Jacobsen, Renville County assistant attorney, has filed motions asking that aggravating factors be considered. If Fahey is convicted on the charges, and the court determines that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that aggravating factors occurred as well, a judge could depart from sentencing guidelines and issue a life sentence.

The prosecutor indicated that the particular vulnerability of the victim -- a slight-built, 14 year-old girl -- is among a number of factors that should be considered an aggravating factor. He also alleges that particular cruelty occurred, due to physical injuries and multiple penetrations.

The prosecution also charges that Fahey allegedly acted purposely against the girl as a female child. Fahey allegedly made statements to officers after his arrest that he was playing a "game" in which the first to sexually assault a juvenile female was the winner. Authorities do not believe others were involved in any such game.

Defense attorney Joseph Parise has challenged the prosecutor's motion on aggravating factors, charging that the alleged actions are elements of the crime itself and not additional facts that can be considered aggravating factors. To consider the same elements as aggravating factors, he said, "is like sticking a dagger in multiple times using the same facts."

Tom Cherveny

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

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