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Judge Binds Sachin Pandey Over To District Court

on January 9, 2018 - 3:25pm


Los Alamos Daily Post


Sachin Pandey, 31, of Los Alamos has been bound over to First Judicial Court on charges of aggravated battery, false imprisonment and attempt to commit a felony – sexual assault following a lengthy preliminary hearing Friday in Los Alamos Magistrate Court.

The charges are connected to an incident in the early hours of Sept. 24 at Camp May, which ended with the victim receiving stitches in her forehead at Los Alamos Medical Center. Judge Pat Casados said she went over everything that was presented to her and found probable cause to bind Pandey over to District Court.

Judge Casados heard testimony from the victim as well as Melissa Fischer and Brian Glover who were at Camp May Sept. 24 and Los Alamos Police Det. Matt Lyon who investigated the case.

Court documents filed by Lyon indicate the victim advised him she had been drinking with friends at about 2:30 a.m. at Camp May and that they had walked someone to their truck and that she was walking back to the camp when she was attacked.

The documents say the victim didn’t remember much of the attack and remembers “being beat up” and telling one of her friends that she had been hit with a rock. She said a short time later another friend took her to Los Alamos Medical Center. When Lyon asked the victim if she drank enough to affect her memory, she stated that she had not.

The victim stated to Lyon that her friends told her she had started walking back to camp some 45 minutes earlier than they did and that when they started walking back they found her on her back with Pandey lying on top of her. She stated that they told her they did not know anything was wrong until she got back to camp and they noticed she had been beaten up. She said her friends told her Pandey had returned to camp before her, started to put out the fire and left.

Asked what she remembered about the attack, the victim said she remembered trying to hit Pandey with her knee as hard as she could, that she remembered a struggle and being in fear. She stated that she did not believe there was any sexual penetration but was not sure because she did not remember. The documents state that she told Lyon she had bruises on her inner thighs as if Pandey was attempting to get close to her.

During Friday’s hearing the victim said she recalled Pandey sitting on top of her swinging a rock. She said she recalled trying to stay conscious.

Deputy District Attorney Kent Wahlquist introduced photos into evidence, which showed a cut on the victim’s forehead, abrasions to her cheek and chin, as well as bruising on her inner thigh.

In his closing arguments Friday, Wahlquist told the court the victim and Pandey were beside a campfire at Camp May when Pandey initiated contact with her.

“The clearest evidence we have of this is from his written statement. He asked her if he could kiss her and the answer was, “no” and he continued on. He was feeling agitated that she rejected him and his statement was that she hugged him and that almost immediately it turned into a wrestling match,” Wahlquist told the court. “What makes more sense when you look at the evidence all together is she said, ‘no” and they ended up on the ground, the defendant ended up on top of her.”

Wahlquist said the victim testified she remembered Pandey pinning her, remembers him holding her down trying to force her legs open and grabbing her, that she had a “clear picture of him with a rock hitting her in the head”. He said Pandey in his statement claimed he pinned the victim down.

“We know she was hit, and the best evidence we have is her picture of him hitting her in the head,”  Wahlquist said.

With regard to the attempt to commit a felony, Wahlquist said Pandey’s statement to Det. Lyon saying he would never have done anything sexual with the victim and that the people who pulled him off her, “did not let it get that far”.

Pandey’s attorney Katrin Fischer told the court that initial interviews with the victim did not mention Pandey straddling her and swinging a rock over her face.

“It’s entirely possible if not probable that the injury sustained by (the victim) on her eyebrow is consistent with her breaking up a fight. Look at the photo – there is no cut on her nose or in that area that would indicate getting hit in the face with a rock. Also the scratch on her forhead looks like a fingernail scratch to me. I submit that injury occurred when the brawl was happening,” she said.

Fischer told the court the most important thing is that nobody saw Pandey hit the victim with a rock.

“It never happened. Det. Lyon never asked him. There is nothing in his statement about hitting or not hitting her with a rock because the first time he ever learns this is when he is charged. He was not given the opportunity to rebuke that because he was not given a full and fair investigation,” she said.

With regard to the attempt to commit a felony charge, Fischer said there needed to be an action shown with some evidence that Pandey intended to commit the crime of criminal sexual contact, which is unclothed, that “he began to do an act, which is a substantial part of touching her body in intimate parts while unclothed”.

“That didn’t happen,” Fischer said.

She went on to read Pandey’s statement saying this is the only opportunity he gets of having a fair representation of his side of events to the court and that his statement says it was not his intention to rape or harm the victim.

“The discussion is of a playful flirtatious interaction with a woman who had just hugged him around the waist and who was laughing and not showing any signs that she felt threatened,” Fischer said. “I ask the court to really strongly consider Sachin’s version of the events because if all you have are witnesses who either have no memory or impaired memory by alcohol this (Pandey’s statement) should mean something.”

No date has been set for District Court.