SULPHUR — A Wellston man facing over 20 felony counts in Murray County, including rape, sodomy and crimes against nature involving a child victim, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday. 

Formal arraignment for Richard Keith Hernandez, 44, will be set for a later date and then the case will be set for trial, Assistant District Attorney David Pyle said Monday. 

Hernandez, who is facing a total of 27 charges, remains behind bars after his bond was denied more than once. The charges he faces are all linked to one girl who was 14 years old when the incidents allegedly took place. 

The investigation began when the girl disclosed she met Hernandez online. Although Hernandez knew the girl’s age, he told investigators he traveled to Murray County to meet up with her anyway. 

He is accused of forcing the girl to perform a number of sexual acts in a field while he video recorded the episodes and raped her numerous times in January and February, court records show. Hernandez also was alleged to have forced the girl to perform sexual acts on a canine animal. 

Hernandez faces the following charges:

• Four counts of first-degree rape, which, if convicted, each count carries not less than five years and up to life or life without parole

• Five counts of forceable sodomy, which carries up to 20 years in prison

• Two counts of crimes against nature, which carries up to 10 years in prison

• One count of possession of obscene material, which carries up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000 

• 10 counts of possession or procurement of obscene materials, which, if convicted, each count carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 

• Five counts of soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor by use of technology, punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000, or both. 

The case was investigated by the Murray County Sheriff’s Department and OSBI agents. Hernandez is being represented by attorney Eric Jones, records show.