A Pahrump man who gave authorities a videotape showing the sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl will plead guilty to a misdemeanor on Tuesday to avoid trial on a child pornography possession charge.
Darrin Tuck told police that he found the video casette while riding his dirt bike in Pahrump. The half-hour tape triggered a nationwide manhunt that ended with the Oct. 15 arrest of Chester Arthur Stiles, 37, by Henderson police.
Authorities have identified Stiles as the man seen sexually assaulting the toddler in the video. He is scheduled to go on trial April 14 and faces multiple life sentences.
Tuck has agreed to plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to obstruct a public officer. In return, prosecutors in Nye County will drop the felony child pornography charge.
The misdemeanor count carries up to one year behind bars, but Tuck’s attorney, Chris Rasmussen, said he will argue against jail time.
Tuck has been locked up since October on an unrelated parole violation and is due for release in March.
Rasmussen said the decision to enter the plea agreement was an easy one. "Any lawyer would be crazy to turn down a misdemeanor when his client is facing a felony," he said.
If convicted of possessing child pornography, Tuck could have been required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Rasmussen said.
The attorney went on to praise Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett for dealing fairly with his client.
A message left for Beckett was not immediately returned.
Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo, who isn’t happy about the plea deal, said timing is everything in this case. "If Darrin Tuck had turned in that tape in May when he found it, I would have sung his praises."
Instead, Tuck stashed the video away until Sept. 8.
Rasmussen said his client will admit his mistake in court.
"Obviously, Darrin wants to put this behind him," Rasmussen said. "He did have the tape a long time. He should have turned it in sooner."
The girl in the video was found safe Sept. 28 in Las Vegas. An attorney for the girl’s mother has said the girl is healthy and has no memory of the attack, which occurred several years ago when she was about 3 years old.
Stiles is facing more than 20 felony charges in connection with the videotaped sexual assault of the girl and the molestation of another girl, who was 6 at the time, in Las Vegas. The charges include sexual assault of a minor under 14 and lewdness with a minor under 14.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or (702) 383-0350.