IDAHO FALLS — A judge ordered an Idaho Falls man to spend up to 15 years in prison for molesting two young girls over several years.
Evan Mercado, 20, was sentenced to 18 months fixed time in prison with 13 and a half years indeterminate after pleading guilty to two felony counts of lewd conduct with a child. District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. gave Mercado credit for the six months he spent in jail, meaning Mercado could be released as early as Oct. 2020.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, police arrested Mercado in April after he admitted to sexually assaulting the two girls several years ago while the victims were around 12 and 10. The girls told investigators Mercado performed sex acts on them and forced them to reciprocate the acts on him.
The encounters occurred while Mercado was also a juvenile. He admitted to some of the abuse while denying other parts of it and said he was good at “blocking things out” and that “things were done with both of them.” Mercado said the abuse stopped after one of the victims threatened to tell an adult.
Bonneville County Assistant Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tanner Crowther recommended Mercado serve a prison sentence of two years fixed and 13 years indeterminate. Crothwer noted Mercado offered little remorse and comments made to the pre-sentence investigator alluded that he felt he had legal protection because of his age.
“In some ways, I feel that is accurate,” Crowther said. “If he were not a juvenile at the time these offenses occurred, our view would be different, our recommendation would be different, and I suspect the court would treat him differently.”
Rocky Wixom, Mercado’s defense attorney, felt a rider program was a heavy enough sentence for a young man charged with crimes he committed as a teenager.
“He’ll get programing in the rider program that will help him begin to address these issues,” Wixom said.
Wixom noted that in the PSI, out of 19 cases similar to Mercado’s, 11 defendants were placed on a rider, three on probation and five sent to prison.
“A majority of sentencing’s from IDOC (Idaho Department of Correction) in situations like this get exactly what I’m asking,” Wixom said. “I’m asking the court to do what is the norm.”
Mercado said he wants to make restitution, repair the damaged relationships and receive treatment to insure “it never happens again,” calling the sex abuse a problem.
“I want the victims to know that I’m sorry,” Mercado said. “I want the court to know that as well and that I’ve taken full responsibility from the very beginning. I didn’t realize how much damage I had caused by my actions and how much the victims suffered … I do intend to make things right if at all possible.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Watkins ordered Mercado to pay $1,745.50 in fees and fines. He will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.
“It’s this courts hope that you will ultimately bring yourself to the place where it never, never, happens again,” Wakins said. “These (crimes) are so destructive on adolescents and minors.”