35 years in prison for Saudi airman in Vegas child rape case
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Saudi Arabian air force sergeant who arrived in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve two years ago may never get to leave Nevada after being sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 35 years in state prison for kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas Strip hotel.
Mazen Alotaibi, 25, stared at the courtroom floor as the boy’s mother sobbed that her son’s life was ruined and Clark County District Court Judge Stefany Miley imposed the mandatory sentence for sexual assault with a minor under the age of 14.
Alotaibi didn’t testify at trial in October 2013, and he didn’t speak Wednesday. With time already served, he will be 57 before he is first eligible for parole.
“This idea that you can come in here and ... do the things you want and then you get to leave, and ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ is wrong,” prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth said. “That’s all about show. It’s not real life.”
“It should really be, ‘What happens here could make you stay here a long time,’” she said. “If you come here and you commit crimes and you rape our kids, you’re going to pay for it.”
Defense attorney Dominic Gentile said he intends to appeal Alotaibi’s conviction and sentence.
The judge spared the former air force mechanic additional sentences of life with the possibility of parole for his convictions on kidnapping and lewdness with a child under 14.
The judge ran sentences concurrently, including one to 10 years for burglary resulting from a jury finding that Alotaibi entered a building with intent to commit a crime. Combined, all charges could have added another 66 years to Alotaibi’s minimum prison time.
“You want to talk about a life sentence?” Bluth asked. She asked Miley to string sentences back to back to ensure Alotaibi would never get out. “What about (the boy’s) life?”
Bluth used the boy’s nickname. The Associated Press is withholding his name and his mother’s name to avoid identifying a victim of a sex crime. The boy is now 15 and lives with his family in California.
Gentile objected and the judge stopped Bluth from referring to a doctor’s presentencing psychosexual report that said when Alotaibi entered the United States from Saudi Arabia, he began engaging in what the prosecutor called “reckless” encounters with prostitutes. The report was sealed by the judge as a confidential medical record.
Alotaibi came to the U.S. for military training at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.
Bluth acknowledged the boy made a bad decision to seek marijuana from Alotaibi as they passed in a Circus Circus hotel hallway shortly after dawn Dec. 31, 2012.
The boy testified at trial that he was lured by the smelled of pot smoke.
Bluth said Wednesday that Alotaibi was lured by Las Vegas’ marketing as Sin City, and recklessly capitalized on the boy’s decision.
Alotaibi’s trial lawyer, Don Chairez, later maintained that the boy traded sex for the promise of marijuana. But Nevada state law says a child under 16 can’t consent to sex.
The jury found Alotaibi guilty of forcing sex on the boy.
Gentile lost a bid to get the judge to reconsider Alotaibi’s conviction on grounds that Alotaibi was too drunk to know he was committing a crime.
Gentile conferred after sentencing in a hallway with a representative of the Saudi Royal Consulate General who declined to speak with a reporter.
The defense attorney said he intends to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court for a new trial, arguing that Alotaibi was badly represented by Chairez.
Reached by telephone, Chairez defended his work as “excellent.” He said he also discussed appeal strategy with Gentile.
“For Mr. Alotaibi’s sake, I hope this is one of the grounds that will be successful and the court grants him a new trial,” Chairez said.
Gentile, a prominent Nevada criminal defense and constitutional lawyer and adjunct law school professor, said he’ll also argue that world events made it impossible for Alotaibi to get a fair trial.
“Mazen Alotaibi is an Arab Muslim,” Gentile said. “I don’t believe he can get a fair trial in America today because of overwhelming bias and prejudice.”