Preliminary hearing canceled for Steamboat man accused of underage sex, drug, prostitution crimes | SteamboatToday.com

Preliminary hearing canceled for Steamboat man accused of underage sex, drug, prostitution crimes

Miguel A. Diaz- Martinez

— After a lengthy delay Thursday, the Steamboat Springs man charged with 41 felonies related to accusations that he exchanged drugs for sex with underage girls ultimately decided he did not want a preliminary hearing.

The prosecution was prepared to proceed with the preliminary hearing for Miguel Diaz-Martinez.

During preliminary hearings in County Court, a judge determines if there is probable cause for the court to proceed to District Court, where felony trials are held.

On Tuesday, the District Attorney's Office amended the charges against Diaz-Martinez. Some charges were added, and some dates were changed to reflect when prosecutors believe the crimes occurred.

Diaz-Martinez is now charged with one count of misdemeanor sexual assault. Of the felony charges, there are 10 counts of felony sexual assault, seven counts of patronizing a prostituted child, seven counts of inducement of child prostitution, seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, one count of sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse, six counts of trafficking for sexual servitude and two counts of human trafficking for sexual servitude.

If found guilty of all the charges, Diaz-Martinez could be sentenced to more than 500 years in prison.

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Because of the amended charges, attorneys representing Diaz-Martinez from the Public Defender's Office initially asked Thursday morning that the preliminary hearing be postponed.

Judge James Garrecht said he found the arguments for delaying the hearing to be "disingenuous."

Diaz-Martinez was then allowed to meet in private with his attorneys and two Spanish interpreters for several hours.

When court reconvened in the afternoon, it was determined that Diaz-Martinez no longer wanted the preliminary hearing.

An arraignment in District Court was set for 4 p.m. March 16. During arraignments, defendants typically enter a plea.

It was disclosed in court that Diaz-Martinez had been offered a plea deal, and the plea deal would remain on the table as the case goes to District Court.

In a rare move, Garrecht offered to close his courtroom to the public for a few minutes. District Attorney Brett Barkey said he wanted to state the plea deal on the record, but he did not think it was appropriate in this case to do it publicly.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today has requested that transcripts from the secret proceeding be made available to the public.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland