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Man sentenced in child sexual assault case

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A Hagerman man convicted of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison.

Mark Heitz (Submitted Photo)

Judge Dustin K. Hunter of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District followed the recommendation of the District Attorney’s Office at a Nov. 10 hearing conducted via Google Meet and sentenced Mark Heitz, 33, to a term of 16 years and 364 days incarceration.

The hearing came three months after a jury, during an August criminal trial, found Heitz guilty on one count of sexual contact of a minor, second degree, child under 13, unclothed; and one count of enticement of a child.

Heitz, in accordance with the sentence, will serve 15 years on the criminal sexual contact charge, plus an additional year under the state’s habitual offender statute. Heitz will also serve an additional 364 days on the child enticement charge, which will run consecutive to the 16-year sentence. He will begin his term with 1,001 days of pre-sentence confinement credit.

Upon completion of his term of imprisonment, Heitz will be placed on parole for a period ranging from five years up to the end of his natural life, and be required to register as a sex offender.

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The charges against Heitz stem from an Oct. 26, 2016 incident where Heitz is alleged to have sexually assaulted and tried to take inappropriate photos of a girl at his 200 block of Linden Street residence in Hagerman.

Two days after the incident happened and the girl’s mother reported the incident to police, court documents state a search warrant was executed on Heitz’s home, where police uncovered a large collection of pornography, including images and videos of underage girls.

Heitz was later charged with one count of possession of a visual medium of sexual exploitation, child under 13, in connection with those materials allegedly found in his home. Court records state a criminal trial in that matter is set for February.

In making the state’s recommendation, Taylor Jaggers, deputy district attorney, said that a pre-sentencing report in which Heitz was evaluated through interviews showed that Heitz still does not take responsibility for his actions in the case and is at a high risk of reoffending.

Ira Shiflett, Heitz’s attorney, requested the sentences for both counts run concurrent — or be served at the same time — and that some of the prison term be suspended and served on supervised probation. Shiflett also asked that a 15-month period in which Heitz was not in custody and out on conditions of release count toward pre-sentence confinement.

All those requests by the defense were denied by the court.

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