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Thu, Sept. 19

Delafuente signs plea agreement on two felony counts
Cottonwood officer changes plea; charges stem from October 2018 domestic assault

Cody J. Delafuente

Cody J. Delafuente

COTTONWOOD — A Cottonwood police officer arrested in October 2018 on domestic violence charges changed his plea this week in Yavapai County Superior Court.

Cody J. Delafuente initially faced charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, assault with intent to injure and preventing or interfering with emergency telecommunications. The charges stemmed from an incident involving his wife. He pleaded guilty Sept. 4 to two amended charges.

According to a minute order signed by Judge Chris Kottke and filed Wednesday, Delafuente, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault-domestic violence, which are Class 6 felonies in Arizona.

He is due to be sentenced in Yavapai County Superior Court Division 7 by Judge Michael Bluff on Monday, Oct. 7.

Delafuente's attorney, Jason Karpel of the Phoenix-based firm D.M. Cantor, refused to answer any questions from The Verde Independent.

Sgt. Monica Kuhlt, spokeswoman for the Cottonwood Police Dept., said Delafuente has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Oct. 7 sentencing hearing.

“The Cottonwood Police Department is aware there is a change of plea offer on the table for Officer Delafuente,” Kuhlt said. “It is our understanding Mr. Delafuente has another court date of October 7th to determine if the court accepts the plea offer. We are following the case closely and will respect Mr. Delafuente’s procedural due process rights.”

The other charges against Delafuente would be dropped, a common element of plea agreements for defendants facing multiple charges. Kottke stated, on court documents, that acceptance of the plea agreement is deferred until sentencing.

Earlier this summer, Delafuente’s attorney asked Judge Bluff for a postponement and settlement conference. Karpel also requested that a different judge oversee that court conference, mentioning a "conflict" without going into detail.

According to court documents, supplemental items disclosed within the past month include an April 2017 Clarkdale Police Department incident report, an incident narrative from a Clarkdale officer, body camera video and a use-of-force report. Bluff had no objection to Carpel's request for the settlement conference in front of a different judge.

Delafuente was a detective with the Cottonwood Police Department when he was arrested in October 2018 following an investigation of domestic violence toward his wife at a home in Clarkdale. He pleaded not guilty soon thereafter, and a series of court hearings ensued.

Carpel asked Bluff to send the case back to the grand jury that had indicted Delafuente, on the basis of the jury having not heard all the important facts. Bluff denied the defense motion to send the case back to the grand jury.

Julie Malinowski, deputy court administrator for the Yavapai County Superior Court, said a judge has the discretion of giving Delafuente a wide range of sentencing options, including Class 1 misdemeanor consequences, ranging from probation to maximums of 18 months in state prison and/or a $150,000 fine.

Malinowski said judges can make felony determinations at the time of sentencing, but more typically that is determined after the defendant completes probation. She said that with any law enforcement officer found guilty of any criminal charge, a report is sent to the Department of Public Safety, which makes determinations on each officer’s commission status.

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