A Cortez police officer testified Monday in Kansas about the arrest of a Topeka man who has been charged with sex-related crimes after he was found in a local hotel with a teen girl.
Stephon Lobato, of the Cortez Police Department, and two other officers on arrested Michael Fitzgerald on Jan. 25 after finding him with the 14-year-old in a room at the Days Inn by Wyndham Cortez.
Fitzgerald is being held on $250,000 bond and has been charged with six felonies including soliciting a child, indecent liberties with a child, a sex act with a child, taking a child out of state without parental consent, sheltering and concealing a runaway, and intercourse with a child.
Lobato testified during Fitzgerald’s final pretrial hearing in Shawnee County District Court. The trial is scheduled for Dec. 9 in Topeka.
A Cortez affidavit states Topeka Police Detective Scott Dickey located Fitzgerald’s black Dodge pickup using Mopar vehicle tracking and informed Cortez police of Fitzgerald’s location Jan. 24. The FBI assisted in the case.
When the three Cortez police officers knocked on the hotel room door, Fitzgerald opened the door wearing underwear and a T-shirt, the police affidavit said. Some details in the affidavit were redacted, but in court in Cortez, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Margeson said the girl was wearing just her underwear when police arrived.
Officers reported in the affidavit that both beds in the hotel room appeared to have been slept in. Outside the hotel room, the girl reportedly told officers that she was not taken against her will and that they did not have sexual intercourse.
The girl was evaluated at Southwest Memorial Hospital and placed in custody of Montezuma County Social Services before being returned to Topeka.
Lobato’s body-cam video was shown in two parts Monday in court, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The first part showed the officers knocking on the second-floor door of Fitzgerald’s room at the Days Inn and interviewing him inside. They then left Fitzgerald and went to the parking lot.
The second part showed Lobato and another officer in the parking lot. About 3 a.m. Jan. 25, an FBI special agent contacted the Cortez officers and requested that they secure Fitzgerald’s pickup and the hotel room and that the FBI agent would obtain a search warrant. Officers stopped Fitzgerald as he came down the hotel steps. He was handcuffed and arrested.
The arrest wrapped up a three-day search for the girl, who had been missing since Jan. 22.