Gary Montoya had two previous sex offense convictions

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FARMINGTON — An Aztec man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after agreeing to a plea deal for convictions including criminal sexual contact in the second degree.

Gary Montoya, 60, entered an Alford plea, similar to a no-contest plea, on a second-degree felony count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and a third-degree felony count of child solicitation by electronic communications, according to a copy of the plea agreement.

He agreed to the plea deal during a March 5 hearing and was sentenced by District Judge John Dean Jr. during a Thursday afternoon hearing in Aztec District Court.

Dean sentenced Montoya to 16 years in prison with six years suspended and credit for time served.

The plea agreement covered two separate cases.

Montoya was convicted of soliciting photos from a 14-year-old girl and was taken into custody on Jan. 11, 2017, when he attempted to meet the girl at Kiwanis Park in Farmington, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

A young female relative told a child forensic interviewer on Jan. 12, 2017, that Montoya molested her and touched her in her "groin area," stating it happened more than once, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

During a Jan. 16, 2017, interview, Montoya told detectives for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office he touched her in the vaginal area once when she was 7 years old.

Eric Murrow, Montoya's attorney, said a plea agreement was pursued because the prosecution had concerns about the victim testifying and that his client gave an incriminating statement to police in addition to his criminal history.

Montoya has two previous sex offense convictions, including a 1994 conviction for two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor in the first degree. He served 19 years in prison, according to court documents.

Three charges in the two cases were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. A count of child solicitation by electronic communications and a count of tampering with evidence were dropped in one case.

A count of criminal sexual contact of a minor (child under 13 years old) was dropped in the other case.

Family members of the victim in the criminal sexual contact case spoke during the sentencing hearing, along with Montoya himself.

When the prosecutor asked the family members in the audience if anyone had issues with the plea agreement, none of them spoke up.

But the father of the victim told the court he wondered why anyone would take advantage of a child like that. He also stated Montoya is a repeat offender, and he wishes Montoya could stay in prison and never be let out.

Montoya told the court he was sorry for all the people he hurt. He asked everyone to find forgiveness for him and said he tried to be a good father and grandparent.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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