A Kingman man who admits brutally sexually abusing three young girls was sentenced to prison for 35 years on Friday, February 17. It was the maximum punishment possible under terms of the plea agreement, yet Judge Billy Sipe said he believed Mark Sandoval, 45, should go to prison for 100 years or more.
Judge Sipe nonetheless said he accepted the plea agreement anyway, believing rejection would only see it approved by another judge. Sipe said details of Sandoval’s abuse of a female toddler, and other girls six and nine years of age in 2012 were “disturbing and unconscionable”.
Sandoval was convicted of three child molestation related counts, in a deal dismissing 28 other charges.
“The Court finds that the defendant committed these acts in a cruel, heinous and depraved manner and the Court has considered the horrific nature of these offenses,” Judge Sipe said. “You can commit this crime on a lot of different levels and this is a lot different level. This is really about the worse level I’ve ever seen. It’s the worse level Mr. Cote’s (prosecutor) ever seen. It’s the worse level Detective Goodwin has ever seen and apparently all of the Detectives in the Mohave County sheriff’s office.”
Sandoval was previously sent to prison for a 1993 conviction for attempted sexual conduct with a minor. Defense attorney Sandra Carr noted that Sandoval suffered a traumatic head injury as an early teen, and that he suffered post traumatic stress disorder for having been sexually abused by a sibling for three years.
“Mark is not a monster,” Carr said. “He is a human being. He’s a son. He’s a brother. He’s a neighbor.”
Sandoval referred to his victims when he spoke at the sentencing hearing.
“I would just like to apologize for what has happened, what I’ve done. I ask that they forgive me in their hearts,” Sandoval said. “Me being a victim does not excuse me, but at the same time, I can relate to what they feel.”
Deputy county attorney Jacob Cote discounted Sandoval’s expression of remorse. He said repeating rape behavior cannot go unpunished.
“This is a vicious cycle and the cycle has to stop,” Cote said.
A mother of two sisters molested by Sandoval said neither girl can cope with their humiliation and degradation. She said one daughter tried to hang herself in her bedroom and another cuts herself due to shame.
“You have turned me into a very angry mother,” the woman told Sandoval, “just like a lion protecting her cubs”.
One of his victims told Sandoval she hated him for hurting her sister and ruining her life.
“I always feel like I’m trapped in a deep, dark ocean and I’m drowning,” she said.
Judge Sipe expressed hope that, considering Sandoval’s age, that the 35 year sentence would guarantee he would die behind bars.
“This is a human being, based on his conduct and based on his danger to the community and the children, that should never walk the streets again,” Sipe said.