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Man pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges

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A local man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in July when she gave him a ride in her vehicle has pleaded not guilty to several criminal charges.

Colby Thornton (Submitted Photo)

Documents filed in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court state Colby Thornton, 43, of Roswell, waived a formal reading of charges and entered a plea of not guilty to one count each of battery; criminal sexual contact; and false imprisonment, intent to commit a sexual offense during an Oct. 19 arraignment in Chaves County.

Thornton faces all three counts following a July 1 incident at a truck stop on North Main Street, where he is alleged to have aggressively grabbed a woman and made sexual contact with her despite her objections.

Court documents state the woman did not know the assailant, but believed he had been on drugs or was intoxicated because she could smell alcohol on his breath.

The woman later informed a detective with the Roswell Police Department that she and her two young daughters first encountered a man — later identified as Thornton — who appeared to be homeless and dirty.

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When she tried to give him snacks and cleaning supplies, Thornton asked her if she could drop him off at a North Main Street truck stop, which she agreed to do. Then with her two daughters in the backseat and Thornton in the front passenger seat, she drove him to the location.

The woman, according to court documents, later said that when they pulled into the parking lot of the truck stop the man began acting strange. The woman stopped the vehicle and instructed the girls to get out and go sit on a nearby bench.

Once the woman and Thornton were alone in the vehicle, Thornton reportedly began to slouch on the center console of the vehicle, aggressively grabbing her and touching her in a sexual manner, despite her objections.

The woman later told investigators that she then exited the vehicle via the driver’s-side door before going around to the passenger side to pull him out.

When she did, court documents state, he then moved, causing her to fall onto the passenger seat. He then allegedly began exposing himself, pressing against her, and telling her to remember that he had once killed someone.

Two people nearby then heard the woman’s cries for help. They responded by coming over and pulling Thornton off of the woman.

Court documents state Thornton was initially uncooperative when taken to the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, as he was in an inebriated state unable to be interviewed. Hours later he identified himself to law enforcement.

Since his arrest, Thornton, who was the subject of a bench warrant for failure to comply with conditions of probation, has remained in custody without bond, where he will remain pending trial or further order of the court.

According to court records, Thornton’s trial has been scheduled for April 13.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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