Rape suspects to be tried in Curry County
Air Force aiding in investigation of three airmen
Last updated 2/1/2018 at 3:39pm
CLOVIS — The three airmen arrested this weekend on rape charges will be tried in Curry County, but Cannon Air Force Base's Office of Special Investigations is assisting with ongoing cooperative investigation, officials say.
Senior Airman Thomas Newton, 24, Airman First Class (A1C) Isaiah Edley, 19, and A1C Rahman Buchanan, 18, remained held without bond Wednesday in the Curry County Adult Detention Center pending court appearances next week.
All three were charged last weekend with second-degree felony criminal sexual penetration pertaining to an incident early Saturday at a house party in Clovis. The Clovis Police Department is the lead agency in the investigation.
They each face up to nine years in custody, lifetime parole, $10,000 in fines and lifetime sex offender registration, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover.
The victim, also assigned to the base, told CPD the three men assaulted her one at a time while two held her arms. She said she had known Newton for a week prior and pointed to videos that night from his Snapchat account in identifying her other two alleged assailants, according to a criminal complaint.
Clovis and New Mexico State Police officers then located in Portales all three men "wearing the same clothing described by (the victim) and as seen on the video," and booked them into the Roosevelt County jail about 12 hours after the alleged crime, records show.
District Attorney Andrea Reeb said Cannon requested jurisdiction on the matter, but she "declined letting them prosecute it."
"It's very normal," she said Wednesday. "They request pretty much every criminal case committed by somebody in the Air Force, but in this case due to the severity of the crime we're going to keep jurisdiction."
The state filed this week a motion for pre-trial detention, noting the alleged crime "was committed using force with others," records show.
A hearing on that motion was yet to be set, Reeb said Wednesday, but will likely take place Monday or Tuesday next week. She said they would also appear before a grand jury Feb. 9, at which time a jury will decide if there is enough probable cause to render an indictment.
Records showed no attorneys yet assigned to any of the three defendants, but Reeb said they would receive a public defender early next week if they had not hired or otherwise been assigned one by then.
Newton has been at the base since May 2015, while Edley and Buchanan arrived last year in November, according to Cannon Chief of Media Operations John Rebello.
"We are doing everything we can to assist local law enforcement to ensure a thorough and complete investigation," he wrote in an email Wednesday. "Buchanan, Edley and Newton are currently part of a civil criminal case in Curry County so we can't presently speculate on any actions, judicial or otherwise, that may be taken on behalf of Cannon AFB.
"We place a great deal of faith in our local authorities and the legal system and are cooperating with them in every way possible. That said, we have to allow due process to run its course. We are offering the victim, who is assigned to Cannon, every resource available at our hands for support."