ALAMOSA — Perry Hotz, 21, pleaded guilty on Friday to an added felony child abuse recklessly causing death charge in connection with the October 2016 death of his daughter, 5 1/2 months old.
In a stipulated agreement between defense and prosecuting attorneys, Hotz will be sentenced to 18 years in prison. District Judge Michael Gonzales told Hotz when he accepted his guilty plea on Friday that if he as the judge ultimately disagrees with the stipulated 18-year sentence, Hotz will have the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea.
The judge vacated a three-week trial, which was scheduled to begin February 12, and dismissed other counts against Hotz including a first-degree murder charge. The judge scheduled sentencing for April 5 and required the pre-sentence report and any documentation such as letters from family members a week before the sentencing “so I have a chance to review it and give it the sufficient attention it deserves.”
Hotz’s attorney Amiel Markenson said his client was admitting child abuse recklessly causing death in that he picked up his daughter out of her carrier inappropriately, which resulted in her falling. She ultimately died as a result of her injuries.
Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Ashley Fetyko told the judge, “The people are not in agreement with that factual basis.” She said they believed it was knowingly, not recklessly, that Hotz injured his daughter.
Fetyko said the victim’s mother is aware of the plea agreement and understands the reasons for it, although she would like a stiffer sentence to be imposed. One of the reasons for going forward with this plea agreement was that the mother would not now have to testify at a trial, Fetyko explained. Another was Hotz’s fairly limited criminal history, she added. She said the DA’s office believed this was an appropriate disposition.
Judge Gonzales told Hotz that when he is interviewed for the pre-sentence report that will be given to the judge it would be best for him to be honest so the judge would know what actually happened.
The judge thanked the attorneys for working out an agreement “in what I can understand is a very hard circumstance for everybody. This is as tough a case as you will ever face in criminal court.”