PRESCOTT - With a jury deadlocked during his rape trial last week, Garin Becker on Wednesday pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse, for which he could be sentenced to up to 2.5 years in prison.
Becker, 25, was tried on one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted sexual assault after he was accused of the rape of a 21-year-old woman he met in a bar in June 2012.
However, after several hours of deliberation, the jury told the judge it would not be able to reach a decision.
Wednesday, the two sides discussed the plea agreement offered by the state. It required Becker to plead guilty to one count of sexual abuse, a class 5 felony. It also asked, but did not require, Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley to mandate that Becker register as a sex offender.
That was a sticking point for Becker. His attorney, John Hollis, said Becker has no history of sexual assaults, and has just one prior felony conviction, for theft.
"I see no red flags in his record," Hollis said.
Ainley said, "Given the nature of the charges themselves, the registration is not supposed to be additional punishment. It's for the protection of the community. It may be necessary."
"I do think sex offender registration is appropriate," said Deputy County Attorney Steve Young, but "frankly, I am more interested in an aggravated (prison) term than registration." The presumptive prison term would be 1.5 years; Becker has already served nearly 200 days in the time leading up to trial. An aggravated term would be 2.5 years.
Ainley told Becker that, if he accepted the plea, she would not be comfortable sentencing him Wednesday.
"Just based on the evidence, I can't make that call," she said, referring to both the question of sex offender registration and the length of time she would impose. She said she would need to read a pre-sentence report first.
Becker and Hollis conferred for about 30 minutes, and he accepted the plea agreement.
The agreement nearly fell apart during the presentation of the factual basis, where the defendant essentially confesses to the crime.
"You knowingly engaged in some sexual contact with (the victim) without her consent?" Ainley asked.
"It was with consent," Becker replied.
Ainley tried again, asking, "Was there sexual contact?
"Yes," he answered.
She rephrased the question, asking if there was "consent by you but not by her?"
He agreed with that.
Ainley accepted the plea and set sentencing for Feb. 19.