A Garden City man convicted of rape and three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child was sentenced to 50 years in prison Friday after District Judge Robert Frederick denied his request for departure.
Frederick ruled at a sentencing hearing that Ernesto Vazquez, 42, will serve two consecutive 25-year sentences before being allowed to seek parole. Because all his counts involved a child younger than 14, he could have served 25 years to life for each of his four charges.
The ruling came despite a request for departure from Vazquez’s attorney, Linda Lobmeyer of Garden City, which would have judged Vazquez’s charges on the standard sentencing grid and significantly reduced the sentence.
According to court documents, Lobmeyer argued for the departure by stating that Vazquez has no significant criminal history, has young children in need of his income and would rely on the support of friends and family to transition to civilian life after a “less lengthy” prison sentence.
Frederick denied the request.
“The reasons given in relation to the harm done, in my mind, does not even begin to constitute substantial and compelling reasons for the granting of the departure, whether it be down for durational or dispositional,” Frederick said.
Lobmeyer filed an appeal after the hearing.
Translator Diana Martinez interpreted the hearing for Vazquez, who primarily speaks Spanish.
Vazquez was arrested in January 2018 and charged with one count of rape and three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. A complaint filed the same day of the arrest states that between May 19 and Nov. 23, 2017, he raped and fondled a child born in 2006 and fondled another child born in 2007. All incidents took place in Finney County, according to the complaint.
Vazquez plead not guilty to all charges in June 2018, but was ultimately found guilty and convicted after a jury trial in February.
Assistant Finney County Attorney Tamara Hicks, the prosecutor for the case, said she and her team are satisfied with the sentence and find it appropriate for the nature of the charges.
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