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N.M. teen pleads
guilty in beating of gay couple

N.M. teen pleads
guilty in beating of gay couple

A 17-year-old Santa Fe, N.M., boy has pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and other charges in a February attack on two gay men. David Trinidad, the first of six defendants to go to court, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated battery, battery, conspiracy, and criminal damage to property. An attorney for another man charged in the beatings said his client will not plea-bargain, while a lawyer for a third said his client will plead to some charges and testify against codefendants who go to trial.

New Mexico district judge Michael Vigil ordered a 15-day evaluation of Trinidad before sentencing. The teen could be sentenced as a juvenile, which could include being committed to the state until his 21st birthday, or be sentenced as an adult, in which he could get up to seven and a half years in prison. He was on probation for a rape conviction involving a 4-year-old boy at the time of the beating, prosecutors said.

James Maestas, 21, and Joshua Stockham, 23, were attacked by a group of men February 27 in the parking lot of a Santa Fe motel after an earlier confrontation with them at a restaurant. District attorney Henry Valdez has said he will seek tougher sentences under New Mexico's hate-crimes law. Maestas, who spent more than a week in intensive care, had to undergo extensive physical and speech therapy, said assistant district attorney Heidi Pircher. Stockham suffered minor injuries.

Maestas was not at the hearing. Stockham, who attended, had no comment. Also charged are Isaia Medina, 19; Gabriel Maturin, 20; Paul Montoya, 20; Joseph Cano, 19; and Jonathan Valdez, 23. Lawyers have said prosecutors have offered pleas to at least four, though none has appeared in court. Maturin and Medina are charged with aggravated battery, battery, and conspiracy. Cano, Valdez, and Montoya are charged with aggravated battery, conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and criminal damage to property under an accessory theory.

Valdez's attorney, Dan Marlowe, said his client will not take a plea deal. "He's not pleading; he didn't do anything," Marlowe said. Maturin's attorney, Thomas Clark, said his client will plead guilty to some charges in exchange for "truthful testimony" in possible trials of others in the case. Maturin could face up to seven years in prison, Clark said. (AP)

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