ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - He's charged with raping a year-old child, and on Wednesday he was ready to plead no contest.
It was a deal worked out by both prosecutors and the defense because they say it could have spared the family more pain.
But the District Judge Sam Winder did something that stunned just about everyone.
Both sides had been working on the plea agreement for years, an agreement that would have given Ralph Maestas 24-30 years in prison.
"I was told this was going to be a hearing about the plea and not the sentencing," said prosecuting attorney Nicholas Marshall to the judge.
Winder didn't say why he rejected the deal and only said "no comment" when KRQE News 13 contacted his office.
If Winder had approved the plea agreement, Maestas could have been locked up for 30 years. Maestas' future is still up in the air after it was rejected.
Maestas, 25, is accused of raping his girlfriend's 1-year-old daughter in 2009. Maestas was arrested eight months after the alleged incident when the baby's older sister told her therapist she saw the rape.
Now when this case goes to trial in October, that sister may have to take the stand. That's something neither side wants.
"There are a number of very horrific details in all kinds of ways," Troy Prichard, Maestas' attorney, said. "It's going to put the victim's family back through all of this."
If convicted at trial, Maestas faces a life sentence plus 77 years in prison.
The girls' mother told police that after the rape, she noticed the baby bleeding. But instead of calling 911 she put her in the bathtub because she didn't want an ambulance bill.
The mother was not charged.
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