Plea bargain talks with accused Havasu child molester ongoing
Harsh punishment reality for a confessed child molester from Lake Havasu City was detailed Monday as attorneys engaged in plea bargain discussions in open court in Kingman. Judge Billy Sipe conducted the settlement conference in the case against David Long, 44.
Judge Sipe told Long that he is guaranteed a life prison sentence if convicted at trial of multiple counts of sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation and sexual abuse of a minor. Long was advised the state’s initial plea offer calls for a 10- to 48-year prison term, followed by lifetime probation.
``He believes the current plea offer is way too much time,” said defense attorney Robin Puchek. ``He wants to do a year or five years. I told him that’s unrealistic.”
Judge Sipe and prosecutor Jacob Cote reinforced Puchek’s assessment during the hearing because the state’s case is bolstered by Long’s admissions “to virtually every allegation” that the victim was abused between the ages of five and seven.
``That is the very best evidence the state could ever have against a person,” Judge Sipe said of Long’s purported confessions. ``It would probably be fairly easy for the state to convict you of all these charges. The state has the leverage.”
The discussion evolved into a give and take between Puchek and Sipe, with input from the victim’s family members, regarding possible resolution of the case prior to trial, sparing the victim the trauma of testifying.
Puchek said a 10-17 year prison range would be an appropriate disposition of the case. Cote said members of the victim’s family think Long should serve at least two decades in prison.
``I will not stipulate to anything less than 20 years,” Cote said.
The victim’s grandmother told Judge Sipe that the family wants Long in custody long enough for the girl to fully mature before she would ever contemplate her assailant being free.
Long had three choices when the settlement conference concluded. One deal would involve a mandatory 20-year prison term and another would let the Court decide between a range of 13 and 27 years. He can also go to trial. Cote said he will leave those offers in place until Long’s next hearing this Friday.