By Timothy Pratt
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The lawyer for a Saudi Air Force sergeant accused of raping a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas hotel on New Year's Eve said on Thursday he would seek to suppress his client's statements to police, in part because the man was drunk at the time.
During a brief hearing in Las Vegas Justice Court, the 23-year-old defendant, Mazen Alotaibi, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the case.
Prosecutors also added two counts of lewdness with a minor to the criminal complaint that had already charged Alotaibi with kidnapping, sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14, burglary and sexually motivated coercion.
Judge William Kephart raised Alotaibi's bail to $1.7 million and ordered him to return to court on February 6 for an arraignment. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.
Alotaibi is accused of pulling the boy into a room at the Circus Circus hotel on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve and sexually assaulting him in the bathroom. Alotaibi had been visiting Las Vegas while temporarily stationed at Lackland Air Force base in Texas.
According to a police report, Alotaibi admitted to engaging in some sexual contact with the boy, calling some of it accidental.
But speaking to reporters outside of court, defense attorney Don Chairez said he would seek to have those statements suppressed as evidence because his client had been drinking heavily.
"Our position is my client was intoxicated. He had been drinking Hennessey from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. and I think he was incapable of understanding his Miranda rights," Chairez said, referring to the legal right of suspects in custody to remain silent and have an attorney present when being questioned.
Chairez also said he needed to examine more evidence to determine what happened, and that the boy's version of events to detectives had changed three times. He said the teen may have been seeking to buy marijuana, which according to police several of Alotaibi's companions were smoking in the room.
The hearing was attended by Abdulqader Mohammed Al Hazza, legal affairs attache of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Los Angeles.
Al Hazza said his government is cooperating with Chairez's request for the testimonies of Alotaibi's companions, which were taken several weeks ago in Saudi Arabia.
"Both governments are looking for the truth," he said.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb)