Prosecutor drops charges in Idaho sex-slave case
BUHL, Idaho (AP) - Prosecutors have dropped charges against a south-central Idaho man who was accused of repeatedly raping and beating a woman and holding her prisoner for 18 months in a booby-trapped home.
The Twin Falls County Prosecutor's Office withdrew the felony rape and first-degree kidnapping charges against Oscar Ayala-Arizmendi, 36, on July 17, prosecutor Grant Loebs said.
"We can't prove what happened in the house based on the evidence we have," Loebs told The Time-News in a story on Wednesday.
Ayala-Arizmendi's attorney, Keith Roark, said police did a poor job investigating and that the woman who made the accusations lied.
"The whole thing makes for a great story, but there was no truth behind it," said Roark, a longtime defense attorney who rarely gives interviews about cases.
Ayala-Arizmendi still faces a charge of felony meth possession. Trial is set for Nov. 17. He remains in the Twin Falls County Jail on $1 million bail.
On April 26, a 27-year-old woman reported that she had escaped from the Buhl house more than two weeks earlier, authorities said. Ayala-Arizmendi was taken into custody May 13.
"As in any case, when it's initially filed, we rely on the evidence at the time," Loebs said.
He said if new information "calls into question what we had at first, or the credibility of the evidence we had, then we have a responsibility to amend up to and including dismissing the charge."
The Buhl woman told police that Ayala-Arizmendi forced her to smoke methamphetamine, sometimes held a gun to her head, and often put a rope around her neck and led her around the house "like a dog."
According to court records, authorities searched the house near U.S. Highway 30 and found chains and locks mounted to walls and floors, chains on exterior doors, a handgun and an electrical wire system intended to shock anyone trying to escape.
The woman said she was locked in a bedroom with Ayala-Arizmendi at night, and during the day he chained her wrists and legs.
"That's only one aspect of the case," Loebs said about what police found. "We need to prove where and when something happened and what each party was thinking and agreeing to or not agreeing to."
Roark said Ayala-Arizmendi lived in a part of town where violence was not uncommon and that he had been attacked on several occasions. He said the chains and locks were intended to keep people from getting in, not prevent someone from getting out.
"Again, the story that she concocted was absurd," Roark said. "But the police believed everything she says, and a man spends weeks in jail."
Roark said the woman had an off-and-on romantic relationship with Ayala-Arizmendi.
She said she at a court hearing that in the first week of April, her brother and some of his friends came to take her away from Ayala-Arizmendi's home.
Under cross-examination by Roark, the woman said she sometimes drove around Buhl and could have gone to the police earlier but didn't.
Information from: The Times-News