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Arraignment set for suspect in Cody abduction

Dec 14, 2012 - The Associated Press

CODY -- A Montana man charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Cody girl is set for arraignment in district court later this month.

Jesse P. Speer is being held at the Park County Detention Center on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and using a gun in the commission of a felony. District Judge Steven Cranfill has scheduled Speer's arraignment for Dec. 21 in Cody.

Speer, 39, waived a preliminary hearing last month, sending his case straight to district court. At arraignment, Speer will hear the charges against him and will be called on to say how he will plead.

Attempts to reach Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric, the prosecutor, and defense lawyer Travis Smith were unsuccessful Thursday.

Authorities charge that Speer, of Belgrade, Mont., lured the girl to his vehicle in Cody with a request for help finding a lost dog. They say Speer pulled a pistol on the girl, drove her out of town, sexually assaulted her and released her. Hunters later found the girl and took her to safety.

Investigators scoured video cameras in and around Cody, keying in on Speer's Toyota 4Runner from descriptions from the victim and other children. Court records state that video footage showing the license plate of Speer's SUV was key in tracking him down.

Court records filed in Montana state that Speer told arresting officers that he abducted and assaulted the girl. He said he had put a bag over the girl's head and tied her hands with rope as he drove her out of town.

"As Speer recounted these events, he indicated he did not know why he had done this, was remorseful, and cried," Detective Thomas Pallach of the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office wrote in a sworn statement requesting a search warrant for Speer's home.

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