SIERRA VISTA – A 46-year-old woman arrested last summer for allegedly having sexual intercourse with the teenaged son of a friend has been ordered to appear at the Sierra Vista Justice Court to determine if there’s probable cause to take the case to trial.
Melissa Michelle Blampied will be the subject of a March 6 preliminary hearing at which Justice of the Peace Pat Call will decide whether there is evidence that someone engaged in sexual conduct with the minor on two occasions as alleged in a criminal complaint and whether Blampied is “probably” the person who committed the offenses.
The burden of proof at a preliminary hearing is much lower than the threshold of proof beyond reasonable doubt that applies to deciding guilt at a trial.
Court records show Blampied came under investigation in July 2019 when the teen’s mother contacted the Sierra Vista Police Department to report an alleged sexual incident occurred April 24 between her son and Blampied, who was invited to spend the night at the friend’s home.
According to Det. John Andela’s probable cause statement, a five-year-old child in the household told an adult that Blampied and the teen were doing “something weird” during the night while the three were sleeping in the living room. It is unclear why police were not contacted sooner, given that the parents knew a “nanny cam” in the living room showed Blampied disabled the device around 2 a.m.
Andela interviewed the teen, who described the April incident as well as other sexual contact with Blampied dating back to late 2018. Blampied was also interviewed by the detective, who noted the suspect said it was “possible” she had sex with the teen but could not recall due to “drinking and drugging a lot.”
Blampied was arrested Aug. 28 after which she appeared before Call who ordered her to remain in the Cochise County jail without bail. However, Presiding Judge James Conlogue released Blampied the next day because the Cochise County Attorney’s Office was not prepared to pursue criminal charges at the time.
Then on Dec. 2, Deputy County Attorney Michael Powell filed a criminal complaint against Blampied for two felony counts of sexual conduct with a minor. Now Powell must convince Call that probable cause exists to forward the case to Cochise County Superior Court where Blampied would be arraigned and given a trial date.
The teen, his family members, and Andela are expected to testify at the preliminary hearing during which Blampied’s attorney Natasha Wrae can cross-examine the state’s witnesses. But the justice of the peace decides whether the defense can call any witnesses.
Blampied can waive the preliminary hearing or County Attorney Brian McIntyre could direct his staff to present the matter to a county grand jury in hopes of obtaining an indictment. If either of those happen then the preliminary hearing will be vacated and the case transferred to superior court.