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Crime & Courts

Wasilla man pleads guilty to sexual assault of passed-out teen

PALMER — A 23-year-old Wasilla man pleaded guilty Thursday to sexual assault in a case that hinged on evidence from a separate high-profile murder investigation.

That evidence was a brief video from July 2016 showing Jordan Santistevan having sex with a 15-year-old girl who appeared passed out and unable to provide consent, according to charging documents in the case.

A relative of the victim said she was drinking vodka and using marijuana, according to a sworn affidavit. She later said she didn't remember the encounter. The relative identified Santistevan as the man.

Santistevan entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree sexual assault during a Thursday hearing in Palmer Superior Court, according to assistant district attorney Melissa Howard.

In exchange for the dismissal of a charge of sex abuse of a minor, Santistevan agreed to serve five years in prison with 10 years probation and 15 years on the sex offender registry.

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 14.

The video came from the phone of 19-year-old Devin Peterson, who in January agreed to nine years in prison for his role in the November 2016 murder of 16-year-old David Grunwald, a teen from the Palmer area.

Peterson pleaded guilty to evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. Four other teens still face murder charges for their role in Grunwald's beating and subsequent shooting death.

Investigators obtained the phone as part of the murder investigation in November 2016.

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