Lawyers want gag order in rape case

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The defense team representing a Texarkana man accused of raping his former Sunday school leader wants a gag order to limit pretrial publicity.

Little Rock attorneys Lawrence Walker and Crystal Okoro filed a motion last week asking the court to issue an order prohibiting public discussion of Vasquez Hayes’ criminal case by police or prosecutors. Miller County Circuit Judge Carlton Jones hasn’t ruled on the motion.

Hayes, 21, is charged with two counts of rape, kidnapping, aggravated residential burglary, aggravated robbery and two counts of theft of property in connection with a Nov. 22, 2015, attack on a woman at her home in Texarkana, Ark. Hayes allegedly raped the woman twice before taking her to an ATM where he forced her to withdraw $500 in cash. Hayes is accused of stealing the woman’s car after releasing her on a street in the College Hill area of Texarkana.

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Hayes was identified after surveillance photos from the ATM were distributed to area media and a plea for the public’s help was made. After Hayes’ arrest, the woman reportedly told investigators she recognized Hayes as having been in her Sunday school group years before.

The case is currently scheduled for jury selection Oct. 31. Rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated residential burglary, and kidnapping are each punishable by ten to 40 years or life. The theft involving the forced withdrawal of funds from the alleged victim’s bank account is punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. The theft involving the woman’s car is punishable by three to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Hayes is presently being held in the Miller County jail.

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