By DYLAN WOOLF HARRIS
ELKO - Despite facing the possibility of life in prison, Aaron Hughes pleaded guilty Monday to incest and will avoid a public trial and additional charges.
The 40-year-old former Elko police captain matter-of-factly admitted in court to having sex with a female relative.
“I entered into an act of fornication with a relative,” Hughes told District Judge Nancy Porter.
Hughes was arrested on a warrant in 2008 after Sheriff’s deputies confiscated a sexually explicit video involving Hughes and a 17-year-old female relative downloaded from a computer. He was charged with using a minor in the production of pornography and incest.
The pornography charge was dismissed in 2009 by the late District Judge Andrew Puccinelli because, Hughes’ prior defense counsel argued, the legal definition of “minor” at times applies to people younger than the age of 16. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that for pornography-related crimes, “minor” applied to anyone under the age of 18, however, and sent the case back to district court.
Per the plea agreement, District Attorney Mark Torvinen agreed to drop the pornography charge Monday morning. For the purpose of a future appeal, the defense stipulated in the agreement it reserved the right to argue against Porter’s decision not to suppress pieces of evidence.
The judge will have few options when sentencing Hughes on March 25. By statute, defendants guilty of incest are to be sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after two years. However, Hughes will under go a pycho-sexual evaluation and if he’s deemed to be low risk for repeating the offense, he could be given probation instead of prison time.
He will also be required to have lifetime supervision and register as a sex offender.
In August 2008, Hughes was arrested on a charge of grand larceny after being accused of trying to steal ATVs and equipment from the Jerritt Canyon mine site. The larceny charge is a separate case on which no action is scheduled at this time.
Before Hughes changed his plea, District Judge Nancy Porter ruled, Monday, on whether a number of emails the DA had submitted for evidence would be suppressed. A few of the emails were admitted, Porter said. The judge also said in court she hadn’t made a decision prior to the change of plea whether all of the video would be admitted to evidence or only portions of it.
Hughes is released on bail. Porter said the defendant had attended all hearings and she didn’t believe a revocation of bail was necessary.
He began working for the Elko Police Department in 1995 and attained the rank of captain before resigning in September 2008.