CRIME

San Juan County man gets 15 years in prison for child sex abuse conviction

Defendant took plea agreement instead of jury trial

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • justin Harris on Jan. 10 plead guilty to a second-degree felony count of criminal sexual contact as part of a plea agreement between the prosecution and the defense.
  • Harris, 28, was sentenced during a Jan. 20 court hearing in Aztec District Court in front of District Court Judge Daylene Marsh, according to court documents.
  • He will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to court documents.

FARMINGTON — A San Juan County man will serve 15 years in a state prison for committing child sexual abuse after admitting to the crime during the investigation.

Justin Harris, 28, was sentenced during a Jan. 20 court hearing in Aztec District Court in front of District Court Judge Daylene Marsh, according to court documents.

Harris on Jan. 10 plead guilty to a second-degree felony count of criminal sexual contact as part of a plea agreement between the prosecution and the defense.

As part of the plea agreement, a first-degree felony count of criminal sexual penetration and a third-degree felony count of criminal sexual contact were dismissed.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien told The Daily Times the victim and her mother were on board with the plea agreement.

More:Man accused of multiple child sex abuse, child pornography charges

Justin Harris

“We believe the maximum sentence was appropriate,” O’Brien said.

Tyson Quail, Harris’ attorney, declined to comment on the case.

After Harris serves his prison sentence in the New Mexico Department of Corrections, he will have from five years on parole up to the rest of his natural life, according to the judge’s judgment and sentence.

He will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to court documents.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation, with the help of an FBI agent.

The federal agent was sent two images of alleged child sex abuse through the Kik smartphone messaging app.

More:Man driving with child accused of shooting at vehicle in alleged road rage incident

Harris was accused of speaking to the agent in the Kik app about sexually assaulting a young female.

He was contacted by Sheriff’s Office detectives on Aug. 27, 2020 and admitted to three incidents of sexual assault. Harris also admitted to making, sharing and possessing sexually-explicit photos of the young female.

Harris was arrested that day and was held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center until Jan. 27, when was transferred into the state prison system.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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