Incest couple accepts plea deal
March 16, 2017
CLOVIS - A Clovis mother and son are expected to spend the next three years on probation - including 18 months without contacting each other - after reaching a plea agreement in an incest case on Wednesday.
Monica Mares, 36, and Caleb Peterson, 20, were arrested in February 2016, accused of having a sexual relationship with one another.
"Everything that needed to be said has been said in court," Peterson said after the proceeding. He declined additional comment.
Mares left the courthouse without comment.
Court records show Peterson grew up without his biological mother but connected with Mares after he turned 18.
Mares' trial was set to begin with jury selection on Wednesday. She and Peterson were both charged with third-degree incest, which District Judge Drew Tatum said could carry a sentence of three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Tatum told both defendants in separate hearings Wednesday morning that they are not allowed any physical or verbal contact during the first 18 months of their probation.
After that, they can have contact as long as it is not "contrary to state law," and they can leave the state, said District Attorney Andrea Reeb.
Both parties pleaded no contest, but Reeb said Mares was adjudicated as guilty in her agreement, while Peterson was not. She said both can have the charges removed from their records if they abide by the terms of their probation.
"I've talked to a lot of people about the appropriate remedy here, and I don't believe prison is that remedy," Reeb told the judge Wednesday.
She said she has expressed to Mares and Peterson that they can either appeal to the New Mexico Legislature to change the law on incestuous relationships or they can move to a state where it is not prohibited.
"We do not believe that sending her (Mares) to jail would do her any good, or Peterson," Reeb said.
Reeb and defense attorneys said neither Mares nor Peterson had a prior criminal record.
"I think it was a fair resolution," said Mares' attorney, Brett Carter. "She has been subject to a lot of threats and been ridiculed in the community. Hopefully, this will put a stop to that. I think she would just like to have this over with."