Sex offender pleads not guilty

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The case against a 43-year-old Steamboat Springs man accused of fondling a 7-year-old boy is headed to trial after the man pleaded not guilty in Routt County District Court on Thursday.

The man was arrested in July on suspicion of sexually assaulting a child younger than 14 and failing to register as a sex offender. He also faces a charge of sexually assaulting a child younger than 14 with a pattern of abuse.

Also in Routt County District Court on Thursday, a 44-year-old Steamboat Springs man pleaded not guilty to selling cocaine. Jesus Alvarez Frias was arrested in June on suspicion of selling cocaine from his home, which is within 200 feet of Soda Creek Elementary School. Alvarez Frias' attorney, Heather Turner, also filed a motion to have his bond reduced, though that argument was not heard in court Thursday. Alvarez Frias will appear in court at 3 p.m. Tuesday for the bond-reduction hearing. District Judge Michael O'Hara set Alvarez Frias' case for a two-day trial Feb. 15 and 16.

Police said the incidents occurred during the summer at the man's place of employment in Steamboat. Police said one assault took place in June and that the other was in July.

On Thursday, the man's attorney, Heather Turner, told District Judge Michael O'Hara that she plans to file a motion for dismissal because the District Attorney's Office didn't provide her a copy of a videotaped interview with the alleged victim.

During the man's Sept. 29 preliminary hearing, Turner told County Judge James Garrecht that she had not received the videotaped interview that was conducted by the Steamboat Springs police. Turner said she requested the video before the preliminary hearing and gave the District Attorney's Office sufficient time to give it to her.

By not turning over the videotape in a timely manner, Turner contends that the District Attorney's Office has violated the law.

Deputy District Attorney Tammy Jenson is prosecuting the case and told O'Hara she reviewed the laws cited by Turner and that she does not think the District Attorney's Office has violated them.

Jenson said Turner was provided a transcript of the interview. Turner said the transcript is not an identical copy of the recorded interview but rather a summary of what happened during the interview from the detective working the case.

O'Hara told Jenson she needs to figure out whether the problem of getting the videotape to the defense is with the police department or the District Attorney's Office, and he told her to fix the problem.

Turner asked O'Hara to consider hearing her motion for case dismissal before a Jan. 6 motions hearing during which the victim and the victim's family will testify. O'Hara said he would listen to what Turner had to say.

The man's four-day trial is scheduled to begin March 7, 2006.

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