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First-degree criminal sex charge against Willmar man dismissed

WILLMAR -- The first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge against a 24-year-old Willmar man has been dismissed in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Judge Donald M. Spilseth has ordered that there were not sufficient facts to support the first-degree charge against Jose Luis Zapeda-Caballero, also known as Carlos Antonio Nevarez-Lopez.

The man was charged after police were called May 23 to a home along the 600 block of Third Street Southwest where a 13-year-old girl reported she was sexually assaulted by him while going to check on her crying 2-year-old sister. Zapeda-Caballero allegedly came out of a closet, attempted the assault, including pressing his penis against her. When another person came to the room, he jumped out the window and climbed down a tree, the complaint states.

In the omnibus order dated July 30, Spilseth granted a defense motion that there was not probable cause for a first-degree charge, but rather perhaps that of a lesser fourth- or fifth-degree charge. The judge concluded that there was "no evidence that the defendant attempted to engage in sexual penetration with (the girl)."

In the memo attached to the order, the judge wrote that the unbuckling of the man's belt, which the girl said she heard, "may well have been a substantial step toward indecent exposure or sexual conduct. However, it would be too speculative to conclude that the defendant's acts were an attempt at penetration."