Legal expert explains why man accused of grabbing PHX girl won't face additional charges

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 11:14:08-04

Phoenix police have confirmed the identity of a man who a Valley mother says tried to grab her child.

Luke Bahe, 40-year-old, walked away with only a minor citation after the victim’s mother reported the incident to police, and he is no stranger to law enforcement-- his criminal history showing 54 arrests. 

Shari Boone said Bahe tried to reach into her car and grab her 7-year-old daughter at a light rail parking lot as she was loading her family in to go home. Bahe pushed Boone’s husband as he blocked his child, and for that Bahe was ticketed with misdemeanor assault and released.

But Boone insists that Bahe should be in jail and charged with attempted kidnapping, as well.

Criminal defense attorney Russ Richelsoph is giving perspective to the law and why police likely aren’t recommending stiffer charges for Bahe to the Maricopa County Attorney. He said mother’s intuition doesn’t override the facts if Bahe never made physical contact with the girl.

"Can they prove he had this intent beyond a reasonable doubt?" Richelsoph said. “It may make the family feel better, it may make them feel vindicated, but in the long run, it's a waste of government resources and taxpayer dollars to charge somebody with a crime that just can't be proven."

Richelsoph said the county attorney could still use his discretion to file tougher charges, but it still would have to be a case that the county attorney’s office is confident that it can win.

Boone said police told her that Bahe was so drunk the night he was arrested that they had to take him to a third-party facility to sober up. It’s a pattern consistent with Bahe’s criminal history, which most often include convictions for drinking in public, public intoxication, trespassing, and assault, including assault against a firefighter and health care worker. 

Richelsoph said it’s easy to make conclusions about a person’s character, and even question their mental stability, but in a court of law, a prosecutor cannot draw on prior convictions to prove a separate accusation.

"The prosecutor just can't go to the jury and say, 'Look jury, he's done this 54 times. He'll probably do it 54 times again, let's convict him.’" Richelsoph said. “In this country, we balance the rights of an individual with the rights of the community when it comes to mental health.”

Bahe was recently released early from a year-long jail sentence in October of 2015 for felony assault. Richelsoph said a judge could look at that and use it to impose the maximum penalty in this assault case, which would be six months.