APACHE COUNTY — As previously reported Tommy Siqueiro III, who was once the executive director of Haven Health nursing home in Show Low, has been charged with two counts of child prostitution, sexually exploiting a minor by means of photographing or recording during sexual conduct and having sex with a minor. These acts allegedly took place on July 5, 2017, at a hotel in Springerville and allegedly involve girls who were between the ages of 15 and 17 at the time. He pled not guilty.
On May 13, Siqueiro, through his attorney Dana Hogle of Mesa asked Judge C. Allen Perkins to move the case out of the Apache County Superior Court, called a “change of venue.”
Technically speaking, there is only one superior court in the state of Arizona. That one court has 15 branches, one in each county in Arizona, but they all have the same jurisdiction, meaning that they all have the same authority to adjudicate disputes.
The Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure allows for a change of venue if a “the party cannot have a fair and impartial trial” in a particular court. Although sometimes necessary, such a change can be very burdensome and expensive for witnesses, attorneys and detention officials who must transport the defendant to trial.
Hogle argued that (among other things) news coverage has made it impossible to get a fair jury because news outlets from Tuscon, azcentral.com based in Phoenix, The Round-Up in Payson, and KTAR radio has provided “negative pretrial publicity.”
His request particularly singles out the Independent.
He writes: “The White Mountain Independent still runs articles as to what is transpiring on this case with surprisingly accurate evidence. They are even able to report on items that have been sealed by the court and are sometimes even news to defense counsel. The last known entry was April 26, 2019, with the caption in bold ‘Sequeiro facing multiple sex charges involving minors.’”
(Editor’s Note: Sealed parts of a court file are only available by court order. The Independent has not asked for such an order and has not accessed sealed material.)
The state filed its response and the judge denied Siqueiro’s request.
Judge Perkins noted that the news outlets cited by the defense are in various Arizona counties and that the White Mountain Independent is a small newspaper serving the southernmost area in Apache County, one of the largest counties in the country.
Siqueiro’s next case management conference is set for June 24.