Kevin Leroy Echternach was facing a lifetime in prison if convicted this summer of luring a minor for sex, but after signing a plea deal he will be out in 15 years, if not sooner, according to court records.
Echternach, 59, pleaded no contest in March to two felonies related to his efforts to have sex in February 2019 with a 14-year-old who didn’t exist. A no contest plea does not involve an admission of guilt, but the defendant agrees to be sentenced as if guilty.
The first count of Echternach’s plea is for the use of an electronic communication device to transmit a visual depiction to a minor. The image was of his genitals. The second count is for offering or soliciting sexual conduct with a minor.
The pleas were part of an agreement negotiated by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office which ensures Echternach will serve at least 10 years -but no more than 15- in state prison. The length of his prison term will be announced June 5 by Judge James Conlogue of the Cochise County Superior Court.
Echternach’s prison sentence will not be eligible for early release but he will be given credit for 15 months spent in custody since his arrest. He must begin a lifetime term of probation and register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.
Court records show Echternach was on probation in February 2019 for a 2013 theft offense when he utilized the Whisper social media application to make contact with a user he believed was a 14-year-girl. Whisper allows its users to anonymously exchange messages, photos, and video.
But Echternach was actually engaging in explicit sexual communications with members of the multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children taskforce which targets online sexual predators of children. He later showed up in a camper truck at a Sierra Vista restaurant where he planned to meet the “girl.”
After being arrested and advised of his Miranda rights, Echternach was interviewed by Det. Tom Ransford at the Sierra Vista Police Department.
“He provided a verbal statement where he admitted talking to a 14 year old girl online along with several other underage girls about sexual intercourse,” Ransford wrote in a probable cause statement. “He further admitted he provided a photograph of his penis to the 14 year old girl and left (his) residence with the intent to engage in sexual intercourse with her.”
Ransford also noted Echternach claimed to have recently injected methamphetamine, and that when using meth “he gets online and chats with young girls.”
Echternach’s plea deal included an unusual provision allowing him to be released from jail for seven days prior to sentencing provided he comply with certain conditions, including GPS monitoring at his expense. However, court records show Echternach never took steps to implement the provision.
In addition to his theft conviction, Echternach served time in state prison for a 1998 aggravated assault offense and has a federal conviction for transporting several illegal immigrants in 2014.