Prostitution jury trial stops early

NEW ULM — A mistrial was declared Tuesday in Brown County District Court in a four-day jury trial for a 23-year-old man charged with three counts of felony prostitution involving a 17-year-old girl in 2015.

A jury of six men and six women were chosen from dozens of people called to jury duty Monday. They were dismissed at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. A jury trial for Colten Camacho was rescheduled for Feb. 13-15.

“Unforeseen developments came to light last Monday. I have declared a mistrial,” Brown County District Court Judge John Docherty said. “We’ll have to pick a fresh jury. This is not something I do lightly. It’s not something anybody wanted to do. It’s the only way to get a fair trial.”

“There were issues that came up that we didn’t have time for in the middle of a trial,” Docherty told The Journal late Tuesday morning.

Charges in the case were filed July 1, 2015, against Camacho.

On May 4, 2016, New Ulm Police got a phone call from a mandated reporter who said she got a report from a 17-year-old girl. The girl said she sold her body to a 21-year-old Twin Cities man. In addition, the mandated reporter said this happened somewhat frequently in New Ulm over the previous few months or so.

The teen said she and the man agreed to meet in New Ulm at several times and places when the encounters happened. They were supposed to meet again but since she was in a residential treatment facility, they did not meet. The teen would not tell the mandated reporter the man’s name or other details.

Police told the mandated reporter they would document the information and informed other investigators and the teen’s probation agent.

After some thought, the teen told the mandated reporter the name of the man was “Colten Comacho” and that he is either a Twin Cities police officer or security officer. The girl said Comacho told her to delete certain things about him from her phone.

In addition, the girl said she knows many other victims who may also be minors, who did the same thing with Camacho.

Late Monday afternoon, New Ulm Police Department Senior Investigator Jeff Hohensee testified he examined the phone. Because conversations between the girl and Camacho were on Snapchat, he could not retrieve them, so the phone was of no evidentiary value.

“I still think this is a potential piece of evidence. I urge the court to take a look at this and police reports,” said Camacho’s attorney, Thomas K. Hagen of Mankato. Hagen earlier filed a motion for a Brady hearing (a defendant’s request for evidence concerning a material witness which is favorable to the defense and to which the defense may be entitled).

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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