Las Vegas: The lawyer for a Saudi Air Force sergeant accused of raping a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas hotel on New Year’s Eve said on Thursday he would seek to suppress his client’s statements to police, in part because the man was drunk at the time.
During a brief hearing in Las Vegas Justice Court on Friday, the 23-year-old defendant, Mazen Al Otaibi, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the case.
Prosecutors also added two counts of lewdness with a minor to the criminal complaint that had already charged Al Otaibi with kidnapping, sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14, burglary and sexually motivated coercion.
Judge William Kephart raised Al Otaibi’s bail to $1.7 million (Dh6.2 million) and ordered him to return to court on February 6 for an arraignment. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.
Al Otaibi is accused of pulling the boy into a room at the Circus Circus hotel on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve and sexually assaulting him in the bathroom. Al Otaibi had been visiting Las Vegas while temporarily stationed at Lackland Air Force base in Texas.
According to a police report, Al Otaibi admitted to engaging in some sexual contact with the boy, calling some of it accidental.
But speaking to reporters outside of court, defence attorney Don Chairez said he would seek to have those statements suppressed as evidence because his client had been drinking heavily.
“Our position is my client was intoxicated. He had been drinking Hennessy from 2am to 9am and I think he was incapable of understanding his Miranda rights,” Chairez said, referring to the legal right of suspects in custody to remain silent and have an attorney present when being questioned.
Chairez also said he needed to examine more evidence to determine what happened, and that the boy’s version of events to detectives had changed three times. He said the teen may have been seeking to buy marijuana, which according to police several of Al Otaibi’s companions were smoking in the room.
The hearing was attended by Abdul Qader Mohammad Al Hazza, legal affairs attache of Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Los Angeles.
Al Hazza said his government is cooperating with Chairez’s request for the testimonies of Al Otaibi’s companions, which were taken several weeks ago in Saudi Arabia.
“Both governments are looking for the truth,” he said.