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Sun, Nov. 17

Child safely returned to mother following Amber Alert; non-custodial father arrested

Judge dismisses custody interference charge against Cottonwood man

Staff Reports

COTTONWOOD – Lazaro Rocha III’s charge of custody interference/denying parent access was dismissed by Cottonwood Municipal Judge A. Douglas Lasota Sept. 6, 2016.

In September, Cottonwood Police Department stated in a news release that a 3-year-old Cottonwood child was returned to her mother “in good health and happy” following an Amber Alert that the child’s non-custodial father, Rocha, claimed “he was heading to California and the female would not see him or her daughter again.”

Police were dispatched to the call of custodial interference, according to a release from Detective Sergeant Tod Moore. Officers were advised that they had been contacted by a 34-year-old woman to report she had been in an argument with her daughter’s father, 35-year-old Cottonwood resident Rocha, and that Rocha had taken their 3-year-old daughter without her consent.

Late that evening, police said Rocha returned to the mother’s apartment with the child. He was taken into custody by waiting Cottonwood officers.

Rocha pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge – a class one misdemeanor - during his Sept. 6, 2016 hearing. Rocha was sentenced to two days jail time, with two days credit for time serviced. He also was ordered to complete Anger Management Counseling by March 20.

A 3-year-old Cottonwood child was returned to her mother "in good health and happy" Monday following an Amber Alert that the child's non-custodial father claimed "he was heading to California and the female would not see him or her daughter again," according to a report from the Cottonwood Police Department.

Monday at about 8:55 p.m., Cottonwood Police were dispatched to a call of custodial interference, according to a release from Detective Sergeant Tod Moore. Officers were advised that they had been contacted by a 34-year-old woman to report she had been in an argument with her daughter's father, 35-year-old Cottonwood resident Lazaro Rocha III, and that Rocha had taken their 3-year-old daughter without her consent.

According to the report, the woman told officers that she and Rocha had gone out and had a few drinks earlier in the evening. The report states they had a verbal argument after returning home, at which time Rocha became angry, took their daughter and left in his vehicle, Moore's report states.

The report continues that Rocha sent a text message to the mother of the 3-year-old saying he was heading to California and she would not see him or her daughter again. When Rocha had not returned after a short time, the mother called 911 to report that Rocha had taken her daughter.

The girl's mother explained that she and Rocha are not married and Rocha does not have custody of their daughter and does not have any court orders for shared custody.

A Cottonwood officer was able to make phone contact and speak with Rocha briefly before he hung up, advising him of the serious charges of taking the child. Rocha was verbally abusive and profane toward the officer while trying to talk to him over the phone and told officers to come and meet him and that he was already in, or going to California. Rocha, however, would not advise officers of his location over the phone.

Concerned for the child's safety after his aggressive behavior over the phone, and the fact it appeared Rocha was going to California with the child, an Amber Alert was issued on the vehicle.

At 11:58 p.m., police said Rocha returned to the mother's apartment with the child. He was taken into custody by waiting Cottonwood officers.

Rocha was subsequently charged with Custodial Interference per Domestic Violence and Disorderly Conduct per DV. Rocha was transported and booked into the YCSO Jail.

The 3-year-old appeared to be in good health and happy, police reported.

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