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Judge rules heinous elements exist in Renville County kidnapping, assault case

OLIVIA -- A district judge has ruled that Matthew Fahey's abduction and sexual assault of a young newspaper carrier met the legal standards for "heinous'' and that other, aggravating factors were present in the commission of the crimes.

The ruling on Monday by District Judge Randall Slieter means that Fahey, 25, originally of Fairfax and more recently of Marshall, faces 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 victim had escaped from Fahey, and was not released by him after the assault as his attorneys 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 aggravating factors will be used in determining when Fahey will be eligible to apply for parole. The judge will determine whether the factors justify an upward departure in sentencing guidelines, and consequently delay the date at which he could apply for parole.

Tom Cherveny

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

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