BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A former Northwest Arkansas youth shelter employee charged with raping a minor resident has filed a motion seeking to exclude certain testimony and evidence during his upcoming trial.

Hunter De La Garza, 24, was arrested for rape on February 26, 2022, after an investigation by the Rogers Police Department. According to a probable cause filing, De La Garza allegedly raped a minor girl in the bathroom at the Promenade Mall in Rogers during a one-on-one outing on February 2, 2021.

The January 4 defense filing stated that the prosecution’s intent to cite prior acts by De La Garza and opinions from his former co-workers present a “danger of unfair prejudice” as well as a chance of confusing issues and misleading the jury.

“The State is trying to introduce these events to show the Defendant’s character and
that he acted in conformity with these acts, which is attempting to introduce
propensity evidence which is strictly prohibited by 404(b),” the motion said.

Rule 404(b) is a federal rule of evidence pertaining to a person’s character, according to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

The motion added that the prosecution’s potential evidence in question is “not relevant” to the charge against De La Garza. The defense requested a hearing regarding its motion before the trial, which is scheduled to start on March 17 in Benton County Circuit Court.