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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

Motions denied in child abuse case

Man accused of putting kids in dryer for punishment

August 11, 2007

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— A judge has denied defense and prosecution motions in the case of a Hutchinson man accused of sexually abusing two young children and putting the children in a clothes dryer to punish them.

Reno County Judge Joe McCarville on Thursday denied District Attorney Keith Schroeder's motion to bind Aron Pritchard over for trial. He also denied public defender Sarah McKinnon's recent request to dismiss the charges against Pritchard.

Prosecutors allege Pritchard, 27, put the children in the hot dryer last year to punish them for wetting their pants. The 3-year-old boy was treated for second-degree burns, but the 2-year-old girl was not injured.

Pritchard maintains he was giving the children rides in the dryer and said he put pillows inside the machine to cushion the children.

The charges against Pritchard include child abuse, endangering a child, aggravated criminal sodomy, rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a child, and could carry multiple life sentences.

McCarville said in his court order that the state will be allowed to present more evidence before he decides whether enough evidence has been presented to bind Pritchard over for trial.

Schroeder has said McCarville "exceeded the scope of his review" by questioning the reliability of the boy's statements, which were played in the courtroom from a videotaped conversation with the boy's aunt.

McCarville said Thursday he must find the videotaped statements from the boy were not made by bribery or any type of coercion. He said it has to be clear that the interviews were conducted in a manner unlikely to produce a false statement. If the state fails to meet that burden, the statements may not be admitted as evidence.

"If you don't have a fair interview, there are due process implications," he said.

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