AZTEC — A 32-year-old Farmington man has pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sexual contact against a child under 13 years old.
Dominic Phillips will be facing a six to 30-year prison sentence as a condition of his plea agreement, which was set last week. His sentencing hearing is April 30.
Phillips was scheduled to go to trial Monday to face four counts of criminal sexual penetration and four counts of criminal sexual contact, according to court documents. Prosecutors dismissed six of the eight charges in exchange for his guilty plea.
Phillips was arrested Dec. 4, 2012, on suspicion that he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl, who he is related to. The assaults happened between February and May of 2011.
The victim didn't report the assault at the time of the assaults. More than a year later, she talked about the attack with a friend, who told her mother, who notified the victim's school, who called Farmington police.
During the police investigation, police had the victim call Phillips and ask him about the assault. Phillips said on the phone that he was sorry for touching her, according to court documents.
San Juan County Deputy District Attorney Ron Brambl said in a court filing that after Phillips was arrested, law enforcement officials gathered more evidence and were able to precisely determine the days of the assaults.
"As this matter has progressed, the evidence against the defendant has become stronger, and is overwhelming," Brambl said in a court document. "If convicted of all counts, the defendant will likely spend the rest of his life in prison."
Phillips pleaded guilty to two charges that are second-degree felonies. Unlike other second-degree felonies which are punishable by up to nine years in prison, criminal sexual contact against a minor under 13 years old is punishable by at least three years and up to 15 years in prison in New Mexico, said San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw.
In the plea agreement that Phillips signed last week, it states that prosecutors will be asking Chief District Judge John Dean to sentence Phillips to the maximum prison sentence for each conviction.
Stephen Taylor, Phillips' attorney, could not be reached for comment late Monday.
Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.