Marquez MIA for sentencing

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Johnny Marquez, who entered a plea agreement with the state June 25 on charges of having sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl in 2011, missed his sentencing in district court on Tuesday. The judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

Johnny Marquez

Marquez’s attorney Albert Costales was not present for the sentencing hearing either.

“We haven’t seen his lawyer,” said 7th Judicial District Court Judge Kevin Sweazea in court Tuesday morning. “He hasn’t filed a continuance or let us know anything, so we’ll file a complaint with the bar association if he’s not here by the time we call the case.”

Several minutes later, about 10:30 a.m. when the judge had heard the other cases on the morning’s docket, Sweazea asked for Marquez to be brought into court. Marquez was nowhere to be found, and neither was his attorney.

Mercedes Murphy, the attorney representing the state, said the notice of the hearing did go out so the defense was aware the sentencing was Tuesday.

Sweazea noted a motion hearing had been conducted June 25 regarding a plea of no contest to both second-degree felony charges of sexual contact with a child under 13 years old. He said once the no contest plea had been entered, Marquez fired the attorney representing him at that time, Lee DesChamps, and hired Costales.

Online court records indicate the defense motioned to withdraw the plea agreement, but that motion was denied by the court.

Since neither Marquez nor Costales showed up for the hearing, Sweazea ordered a bench warrant issued on Marquez and a complaint to be filed on Costales with the state bar association.

Following court proceedings, family members expressed their feelings of outrage at Marquez’s betrayal. One of the child’s aunts said Marquez had been a longtime friend of her father’s — the child’s grandfather, who had known Marquez since they were boys. She said she would have trusted Marquez with her own children before the incidents with her niece came to light.

“We trusted him,” the child’s grandmother said.

The child’s aunt said Marquez took advantage of her family’s trust in him.

“I think this has affected all of us, not just his (Marquez’s) family,” the child’s aunt said. “He betrayed all of us … it hurts.”

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case last August, a Socorro Police Department detective was asked to meet with another SPD officer at a city residence on June 26, 2012, in reference to a possible sexual assault. On arrival, the detective met with the child’s mother, who said her daughter’s behavior during a family trip led her to question her daughter about sexual activity.

The criminal complaint states the child told her mother that Marquez, a family friend, had touched her sexually her a year before when Marquez took her for a drive. Marquez had been drinking with the child’s grandfather and offered to take the child for a drive. An hour after they left, the child’s parents arrived at the house and asked where she was.

According to the criminal complaint, the child’s father then called Marquez, who said he was teaching the child to drive and he would bring the child home. Another hour passed, so the child’s mother called Marquez, who said they would be right there. When another hour passed, the child’s father called Marquez and threatened to call the police if Marquez did not return their child. Marquez then returned the child.

The child’s mother told police that after the drive, the child did not want to talk to anyone, and that she has had behavioral problems ever since. The child was always angry after that, and was taking anxiety medication at the time the mother reported the abuse to the police.

The detective attended a safe house interview with the child on July 6, 2012, according to the criminal complaint. During the interview, the child disclosed two incidents of inappropriate touching. During the 2011 drive, the child said Marquez had touched her between her legs as she sat on his lap. Marquez had told the child the touching was “our secret” and gave her $20 not to tell anyone. When asked how she felt about the incident, the child said she was worried about her little sister, who has also gone places with Marquez.

The other incident, according to the criminal complaint, happened at the child’s grandfather’s house prior to the driving incident. The child could not give exact dates, but said she was the same age, 11, during both incidents. The child said since she told her family what happened to her, one aunt said she had experienced similar situations with Marquez.

The criminal complaint states the detective then spoke with the child’s aunt, who also attended the safe house interview with the child. The aunt said Marquez had tried to touch her about seven different times over several months during 2012.

The detective met with Marquez at his home on Fatima Road on July 9, 2012, according to the criminal complaint, and advised Marquez of his Miranda rights before asking questions. At first Marquez denied all the child’s allegations, but after talking to the detective for some time admitted to placing his hand inside the child’s pants on the night he took her for a drive.