Weeks after a superior court judge ruled that damning evidence in an accused child molester’s case would be admitted at trial, his attorneys asked for a settlement conference in the matter.
Lawyers Ralph Ellinwood and Richard Lougee, who are representing defendant Aaron Dibuono, told Cochise County Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson earlier this week “given the complexity of the issue, we’re thinking of a settlement conference.”
In late May, Dickerson denied a motion filed by Dibuono’s lawyers asking that evidence collected by Sierra Vista Police detectives be suppressed. The evidence had been gathered after police obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s residence and vehicle, court records show.
Dibuono was arrested almost a year ago after an investigation revealed he had assaulted a minor in 2012. But the bulk of the offenses he has been charged with occurred in June 2020, police said.
Aside from the child molestation offense in 2012, Dibuono also was charged with aggravated luring of a minor for sex, luring a minor for sex, furnishing harmful material to a minor, attempted sexual conduct with a minor and involving a minor in a drug offense.
Sierra Vista detectives became involved in the matter after the girl and her mother went to police last June and reported that she had been raped in 2012 at the age of 8. The victim and her mother also said Dibuono had contacted her in 2019 through Facebook and told her he had a sex dream about her, police said.
Last June, Sierra Vista Police Detective John Andela and the girl contacted Dibuono on Facebook and started a conversation that turned sexual. Andela took over, posing as the girl, court records show. During that exchange, Dibuono suggested they switch over to Snapchat.
As they continued to talk with Andela posing as the victim, Dibuono sent over a video of himself, his genitals exposed, court documents show. After more sexually explicit conversation, Andela suggested — still posing as the girl — that the two meet. When Dibuono showed up, he was arrested, police said.
Following that investigators drew up a search warrant focusing on a charge of sexual exploitation of a minor. The warrant, signed by the Sierra Vista magistrate, included a search of any devices “capable of storing, sending, receiving, or processing any electronic media.” The list included cell phones.
The evidence collected by investigators includes 29 videos in which the victim’s genitals were exposed. The girl was a minor when the videos were taken, police said.
Dibuono’s attorneys protested that the search warrant was too broad, claiming that it failed to “establish probable cause to search any particular computer or device” at Dibuono’s residence or inside his vehicle.
The defendant’s motion to suppress evidence also mentioned that investigators had seized his cell phone before they requested the search warrant, and because of that, the search of his phone was “illegal” and “warrantless.”
Dickerson has referred the case to Division 1 Cochise County Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal for a settlement conference.