ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — DA: Six misdemeanor child-enticement counts dropped in favor of more serious charges.
Frank Fernandez, 42, of Socorro, was put on house arrest Tuesday after his arraignment in Socorro Magistrate Court on charges of seventh-offense driving while intoxicated, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and driving on a revoked license — all in connection with a July 13 incident at Wagon Wheel Trailer Park, El Defensor Chieftain reported today on its Web site.
The District Attorney's Office, however, dropped six misdemeanor counts of child enticement, originally brought in connection with the incident, El Defensor Chieftain reported.
Socorro Police Officer Richard Lopez said in a complaint filed in Magistrate Court that he responded to calls on July 13 from several parents complaining that a man in a blue pickup truck had asked several children, ranging in age from 5 to 8, to get in his truck with him, according to an El Defensor Chieftain article on Saturday.
One child told the responding officer that the man had parked his truck near a play area and asked some children to get into his truck, but that the children got scared and ran home when the man got out of his truck, El Defensor Chieftain said.
When the man picked up an old butter knife from the sand where children had been digging holes, the children screamed, and the man got back in his truck and drove off, the child told police.
The father of one of the children tried to follow the truck but lost it when it sped off, El Defensor Chieftain said.
Another Socorro resident later told police that a man had approached her as she rode her bicycle in town and asked her to get inside his vehicle, but when she refused he followed her into a trailer park where she was visiting her mother, the paper reported on Saturday.
Police later identified the truck as Fernandez' and found Fernandez outside a residence where he appeared to have difficulty standing on his own, El Defensor Chieftain said.
He was later found to have a revoked driver's license — and that license carried an ignition interlock restriction, but there was no interlock device on the pickup, Lopez said in his report.
Fernandez was also given breath tests that measured 0.27 and 0.28, according to police.
District Attorney Clint Wellborn said he brought the aggravated assault charges, both fourth-degree felonies, instead of the enticement charges, which are only misdemeanors, increasing the severity of the charges rather than lessening it, El Defensor Chieftain said.
Although the District Attorney's Office hasn't interviewed any of the children yet, Wellborn said, Sgt. Lawrence Montano of the city police department has talked to four of the children involved in the incident.
Fernandez, who still faces a jury trial on Oct. 9 on his sixth DWI charge, was released on his own recognizance and ordered not to leave his home except for work, court or emergency medical treatment, El Defensor Chieftain said.