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No immediate ruling on new trial for Saudi airman convicted of raping boy in Las Vegas hotel

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LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge heard arguments Friday but didn't immediately decide whether a Saudi Arabian air force sergeant deserves a new trial after his conviction in the rape of a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas Strip hotel.

Clark County District Judge Stefany Miley told prosecutors and attorneys for Mazen Alotaibi that she'll either schedule another trial or set a date for sentencing in the coming days.

Alotaibi's attorney, Dominic Gentile, argued that the 25-year-old former Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft mechanic deserves a new trial. A witness submitted a sworn affidavit in May saying he lied during testimony about how intoxicated Alotaibi was before he encountered the boy at the Circus Circus hotel early Dec. 31, 2012.

Gentile argued that if Alotaibi was too drunk to drive, he was too intoxicated to know if he was committing a crime.

Prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth called the driving issue a small detail for a jury considering testimony from the boy, DNA and medical evidence that sex had occurred, video showing Alotaibi with the boy and other witness testimony.

"The defense is asking for a new trial on a very small detail — whether or not the defendant actually drove a vehicle from one place to another," Bluth said. "This is not some new key piece of evidence."

PHOTO: Mazen Alotaibi, a sergeant in the Saudi Arabian air force, appears in court with attorneys Dominic Gentile, right, and Anjali Webster, left, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, in Las Vegas. Defense lawyers are seeking a new trial for Alotaibi, who was convicted last year and now faces at least 35 years in state prison in the rape of a 13-year-old boy on New Year's Eve in 2012. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Mazen Alotaibi, a sergeant in the Saudi Arabian air force, appears in court with attorneys Dominic Gentile, right, and Anjali Webster, left, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, in Las Vegas. Defense lawyers are seeking a new trial for Alotaibi, who was convicted last year and now faces at least 35 years in state prison in the rape of a 13-year-old boy on New Year's Eve in 2012. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The witness, Rashed Alshehri, who lives in Texas, wasn't in the courtroom. A message for Tom Pitaro, a lawyer who has represented him, wasn't immediately returned.

Alotaibi didn't testify during his trial but acknowledged in a recorded police interview played for the jury that he had sex with the boy. He maintained that the boy wanted marijuana or money in return.

Nevada state law says a child under 16 can't consent to sex, and the jury heard from several witnesses about Alotaibi drinking multiple shots of cognac and smoking marijuana before and after encountering the boy from California in a hotel hallway.

The jury of nine women and three men determined that Alotaibi wasn't too intoxicated to know right from wrong, Bluth said.

They found him guilty in October 2013 of kidnapping for luring the boy to a hotel room, sexual assault for acts in a bathroom, and lewdness with a child for fondling and kissing the boy on the way to the room. The jury also found Alotaibi guilty of misdemeanor coercion.

Alotaibi faces a mandatory minimum of 35 years in state prison.

Two representatives of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, D.C., watched from the courtroom gallery Friday as Alotaibi sat quietly at the defendant's table wearing jail clothing and shackles. One of the men, who refused to provide his full name, declined to comment about the case.

The judge declined to hear arguments Friday about whether Alotaibi's former lawyer, Don Chairez, botched the trial. Such appeals are procedurally heard after a defendant is sentenced.

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PHOTO: Mazen Alotaibi, a sergeant in the Saudi Arabian air force, appears in court Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, in Las Vegas. Defense lawyers are seeking a new trial for Alotaibi, who was convicted last year and now faces at least 35 years in state prison in the rape of a 13-year-old boy on New Year's Eve in 2012. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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