Judge eases phone restrictions for inmate accused of threatening victim

A district judge on Tuesday eased jail restrictions for a 48-year-old California man who authorities said plotted to kill a 13-year-old girl he’s accused of sexually assaulting.

Judge James Bixler allowed Richard Schlacta to have contact in person at the Clark County Detention Center or via phone with his girlfriend or family members, but those calls and visits must be recorded, court records show.

The judge also allowed Schlacta to send and receive mail, but the mail must be reviewed by authorities.

But Bixler said Schlacta, who is being held at the jail on $1 million bail, must remain in isolation as he awaits his June 16 trial on 10 counts, including sexual assault, kidnapping and battery with a deadly weapon. Schlacta has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Restrictions were placed on Schlacta in October after prosecutors learned he had spoken to another inmate at the jail about killing the teen victim. Schlacta has not been charged and the incident remained under investigation, prosecutor Jim Sweetin said Tuesday.

In October, Schlacta was banned from contact with other inmates, his phone and mail access was restricted and all witness names and identifiers were removed from court documents.

Authorities said they learned of the plot after an unidentified inmate wrote a letter to the victim and her family and warned them of Schlacta’s intentions.

Schlacta learned the victim’s address when reviewing court documents in the case, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Schlacta, who is represented by the public defender’s office, attacked the girl early Aug. 28 as she waited for a school bus near Harmon Avenue and U.S. Highway 95. The girl testified at an earlier hearing that he grabbed her, threatened to slit her throat with a box cutter, dragged her behind a building at Woodbury Middle School and sexually assaulted her.

Following the attack, the girl was able to escape and ran into the street, screaming, and waved down a passing car. Two women helped her and called police.

The girl was waiting for a bus to take her to Knudson Middle School, a creative arts, language and technology magnet program school when Schlacta approached her about 5:45 a.m., prosecutors said.

Schlacta was found soon after hiding under a pop-up trailer in a driveway nearby.

The defendant has a lengthy criminal history in California, including convictions on burglary, vehicle theft and drug charges in 1993.

He was released in 1995. But after being convicted in 2003 on similar charges, he was imprisoned until 2012 based on the state’s “second strike” law, which doubled his sentence.

Schlacta also was imprisoned from February to June last year on a drug charge, which didn’t qualify as a “third strike” under California’s law, authorities have said.

In all, Schlacta has been found guilty of 19 different charges in nine cases.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.

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