After three days of trial and almost two days in deliberation, a jury returned a guilty
verdict on one sex crime and wasn’t able to return a verdict on another.
Former Lea County Sheriff ’s deputy Danny Surratt was taken into custody and transported
to the Lea County Detention Center after Judge Steven Bell of Roswell read the guilty
verdict of criminal sexual penetration in the second degree of a child 13 to 18 years old.
The other count, criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 years old in the first
degree, was ruled as a mistrial due to jury disagreement.
“I do not want any show of emotion, no noise made, nothing,” Bell told a room full of spectators before the verdict was read.“You all have been perfectly well behaved during this trial.”
During the trial and verdict reading, the Lovington courthouse was patrolled and secured by New Mexico State Police agents.
The girls in this case are the defendant’s 11- and 18-year-old stepgrandaughters, who both testified they had been allegedly molested multiple times by their “papa.”
“The girls now have freedom,” said the 11-year-old victim as she was leaving the courthouse with her family.
Spectators were separately escorted out of the courthouse.
“I am glad after two years justice had prevailed,” said the 11-year-old’s father, Vincent Sanchez.“They have continuously blamed other people and sometimes you have to take responsibility of your actions,” said the girls’ mother, Tanya Sanchez.“I am glad the jury saw through the smoke screen.”
The 18-year-old victim said she wanted to thank everyone who had stood by her family.
“This was definitely an act of God,” she said as she hugged her younger sister.“I want to thank my little sister she is my hero.”
During the trial, the 18-yearold testified her little sister had told her on May 15, 010, that her papa had touched her in inappropriate places.
Brenda Surratt Nyberg, the defendant’s cousin, said there were no winners.“Today was for
all the victims of the past and all of the would be victims,” she said before leaving the
courthouse.“I would like to thank the state police for all of their security and
Prisella Hodge, the victim’s cousin, said they would be praying for both sides.
Other spectators in the courtroom supporting the defendant declined to comment.
Judge Bell said a sentencing hearing will be scheduled within the next 30 days.
According to assistant district attorney Courtney Hewes of Alamogordo, the maximum sentence is 15 years with a $12,500 fine. She said three years are mandatory minimum.
Originally, the 60 year-old defendant was charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13 in the first degree, one count of criminal sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13 in the second degree, one count of criminal sexual penetration of a child 13 to 18 years old in the third degree and one count of criminal sexual penetration of a child 13 to 18 years old but counts two and four on that list were dismissed by the judge during the second day of trial.
New Mexico Department of Public Safety forensic DNA analyst Jennifer Otto took the stand
Wednesday and testified DNA from the defendant and the 11 year-old girl were found on her underwear.
Rose Surratt, the defendant’s wife and the girls’ grandmother, also took the stand the second day of trial and testified she was shocked when her granddaughter told her about the incident.
Trying to hold back tears, Rose told the court the situation has torn her family apart said she hadn’t reported the allegations because she was confused.
The defendant took the stand Wednesday and testified he had never committed the crimes
alleged.“No I did not. I loved my granddaughters,” he said sobbing.“I love my granddaughters ...
I feel that they have been pushed into this.
(ARTICLE FROM HOBBS-SUN NEWSPAPER, HOBBS, NM)