Lawrence James Halamek, 36, was found guilty by a federal jury of taking a 12-year-old girl across state lines for the purpose of sexually assaulting her.
Faces possibility of up to lifetime imprisonment
By Jon Johnson
TUCSON – A man who was given probation for his crime in Safford now faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a possibility of a lifetime behind bars after being federally convicted for the same incident.
After a four-day trial, Lawrence James Halamek, 36, was convicted Friday by a federal jury in Tucson on charges of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal activity and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
Halamek now faces a minimum of 10 years in prison with the possibility of up to life imprisonment as well as a possible lifetime supervised probation with sex offender conditions and sex offender registration. The case was prosecuted by Carin C. Duryee and Erica L. Seger of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, and was overseen by District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps.
The case revolved around a Dec. 5, 2016, incident in which Halamek picked a then 12-year-old girl from her school bus stop, which sparked an Amber Alert. Halamek and Kimball then rode in Halamek’s blue, Dodge pickup truck into New Mexico via State Route 78. After the truck broke down, the pair stayed the night and then began walking back to Arizona. They were spotted in the Mule Creek area of New Mexico, and a Grant County Sheriff’s deputy took Halamek into custody. No evidence was found or given that Halamek injured Kimball in any way.
Halamek pleaded guilty Feb. 3, 2017, in Graham County to one count of custodial interference, a Class-5 felony, but Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson refused to accept the plea saying the sentencing structure was too light. The plea was then accepted by Cochise County Superior Court Judge James Conlogue later that same month after Judge Peterson recused himself from the case. Judge Conlogue then sentenced Halamek to three years of probation, which was recommended in the pre-sentence report. Halamek was represented by attorney Rebecca Johnson in the Graham County case in which he received probation.
In court, Judge Peterson expressed that he believed the available punishment that ranged from probation to up to 2.5 years in prison didn’t fit the crime and that Halamek should be incarcerated for a longer period of time. Judge Conlogue ordered Halamek to serve just a 90-day sentence, but since he had credit for 85 days already served he was released directly onto probation. Prior to his release, Halamek, who suffers from bipolar and impulse disorders as well as a brain tumor, apologized for his actions.
“I would like to say I’m sorry for what I did,” he said.
After his release in 2017, two FBI agents with a federal warrant appeared and took Halamek back into custody.
While forensic analysis of the child after she was picked up by the New Mexico police did not show any recent sexual harm and she denied being the victim of such, the federal prosecution convinced the jury that Halamek had indeed transported her to a remote area in New Mexico with the intent of sexually assaulting her. He now awaits sentencing.