BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The prosecution in an upcoming trial for a former Northwest Arkansas youth shelter employee accused of raping a minor resident has been building an extensive list of potential witnesses to call to testify.

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.

On January 9, the prosecution filed an amended, non-exclusive witness list to the court. It included six members of the Rogers Police Department, three members of the Arkansas State Police, two individuals from the Children’s Advocacy Center, blanket requests of transport deputies, booking deputies, and jail records keepers from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and 19 other people.

Benton County prosecuting attorney Nathan Smith said that it is not unusual to prepare to call that many witnesses.

“We usually subpoena more people than we end up calling,” he said. “Better to have them subpoenaed and not need them.”

The most recent defense witness list included the names of the defendant, two individuals and “all police that were used in this investigation.” Multiple subpoenas have already been issued for witnesses, ordering them to make themselves available for the beginning of the trial.

The defense filed a motion on January 4 seeking to exclude certain testimony and evidence during his upcoming trial. That filing stated that the prosecution’s intent to cite prior acts by De La Garza and opinions from his former co-workers presents a “danger of unfair prejudice” as well as a chance of confusing issues and misleading the jury.

De La Garza was also granted permission by the court to receive and wear “appropriate civilian clothing” during the course of his trial. The order added that the defendant will be fitted with a stun belt to wear underneath his civilian clothing.

He entered a plea of not guilty to rape and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for January 13 and the trial is scheduled to begin on January 17 in Benton County Circuit Court.