published Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Jury finds Saudi airman guilty in Las Vegas sex assault case

This Oct. 11, 2013, file photo shows Defendant Mazen Alotaibi, listens to comments by Judge Stefany Miley during the jury selection process for hit trial, at the Clark County District Court in Las Vegas.
This Oct. 11, 2013, file photo shows Defendant Mazen Alotaibi, listens to comments by Judge Stefany Miley during the jury selection process for hit trial, at the Clark County District Court in Las Vegas.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

LAS VEGAS — A jury has found a Saudi Arabian air force sergeant guilty of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas Strip hotel last New Year's Eve.

The verdict against Mazen Alotaibi was read on Wednesday in Clark County District Court.

He could face a sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors said the 24-year-old air force mechanic forced the boy into sex in a bathroom at the Circus Circus hotel.

Alotaibi didn't testify at trial. He told police the boy consented to sex for marijuana or money.

His defense lawyer said Alotaibi was too intoxicated after drinking all night at a strip club to know if he was doing anything wrong.

Nevada state law says a child under 16 can't give consent.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A Nevada jury resumed deliberations Wednesday in the case of a Saudi Arabian air force sergeant accused of raping a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas Strip hotel last New Year's Eve.

Jurors began mulling the case Tuesday, after closing arguments in the trial of Mazen Alotaibi (MAH'-zen ah-loh-TAH'-bee).

The 24-year-old air force mechanic didn't take the witness stand during the five days of testimony in Clark County District Court. Defense attorney Don Chairez maintains that Alotaibi didn't need to take the stand because the state didn't prove its case.

Chairez said Alotaibi was too tired and drunk after driving with friends from Los Angeles and drinking and partying all night at a strip club to know if he was doing anything wrong.

Alotaibi told police the boy consented to sex and wanted marijuana or money.

Nevada state law says a child under 16 is too young to give consent.

Prosecutors told jurors that evidence proved Alotaibi is guilty of nine felonies, including kidnapping, sexual assault with a minor under 14 and lewdness with a child. Each of those charges carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison.

Alotaibi also faces lesser sexually motivated coercion and burglary charges. He has been held for more than nine months at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas on $1.7 million bail.

The boy testified that he approached Alotaibi and other men early Dec. 31 on their way to a sixth-floor room at the Circus Circus hotel-casino because he smelled marijuana on their clothes and wanted pot.

The jury heard that Alotaibi smoked marijuana with the boy outside the hotel and asked the boy for sex. Alotaibi was seen on elevator surveillance video leaning down and apparently kissing the boy's neck on the way to the hotel room. The boy is seen running back to the elevator about 30 minutes later.

In a hotel room bathroom, Alotaibi blocked the door, offered the boy $150 then doubled the amount, and forced him into oral and anal sex, the boy testified.

The Associated Press is withholding the boy's name because of his age and the nature of the allegations.

A man who was traveling with Alotaibi testified that he knocked several times while Alotaibi and the boy were in the bathroom, but Alotaibi didn't open the locked door.

Prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth told the jury that Alotaibi wanted sex and wouldn't take no for an answer.

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