A Wellston man charged with multiple sex crimes involving a Murray County girl had 15 additional felony counts filed against him Wednesday morning.
Richard Keith Hernandez, 44, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday for 12 charges filed in May in Murray County District Court, but defense attorney Phil Hurst said with the 15 additional charges, it was rescheduled.
“(Additional charges) are not unusual in a case like this because there is evidence that is gathered as a result of search warrants and the analysis of some of that evidence, many times, takes awhile to get done. So it is not unusual to have additional things come forward,” Assistant District Attorney David Pyle said.
Pyle also said it is pretty normal to reschedule a preliminary hearing when additional charges are filed, since the defense has the right to see evidence collected that caused the additional charges.
Hernandez now faces a total of 27 felony charges related to sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl. Pyle said the girl is the only known victim of Hernandez in Murray County.
The investigation began after the girl disclosed she met Hernandez online, according to an arrest affidavit.
Although Hernandez said he knew the girl’s age, he traveled to Murray County anyway, forcing her to perform a number of
sexual acts in a field while he video recorded the episodes and raped her during the months of January and February, the affidavit shows. Hernandez also allegedly forced the girl to perform sexual acts on a canine animal.
Initial charges in May include:
• 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; and
• One count of possession of obscene material, which carries up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000
Ten of the additional charges filed Wednesday were for possession or procurement of obscene materials. Hernandez allegedly made the girl take naked pictures of herself, which is considered child pornography. If convicted, each count carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
The remaining five counts were for soliciting sexual conduct or communication with minor by use of technology. The charges state Hernandez solicited sexual conduct or communication with the minor girl by, “using a communication device to facilitate, encourage, offer or solicit sexual conduct with a minor, through text messaging…”
Those charges are 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. After making an initial appearance May 9, Associate District Judge Aaron Duck ordered that Hernandez be detained without bond. He remained detained without bond Wednesday.
Hernandez’s preliminary hearing was rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 17 in Murray County District Court.