You have probably heard terms like “emotional distress” or “extreme emotional duress” being used to describe certain murder cases. Human emotions are abstract, powerful, and often defy logic; yet in order to be considered as evidence for or against a defendant, they must somehow be evaluated by the courts. This is one of the most decisive factors in the case of Tracy A. Scott, who confessed to shooting his wife last spring. Scott’s trial is currently underway, though the key focus isn’t whether or not he committed the murder — it’s what state of mind he was in at the time. Depending on the answer to that question, Scott’s first degree felony murder charges could potentially be dropped to second degree felony manslaughter.
Back in June, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed $48 million in assorted white collar charges filed against real estate entrepreneur and alleged Ponzi scheme architect Rick Koerber of Utah County. Earlier this month, he expanded on the ruling by dismissing the case with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be refiled. Judge Waddoups pointed to the prosecution’s handling of the case as key factors in his decision, citing “neglect” and “questionable ethical conduct.”
Earlier this week, we wrote about the death of an unidentified man who was fatally shot by Salt Lake City police outside of a South Salt Lake 7-Eleven. Officers say they responded to a 911 call about a man waving a handgun, and fired on the suspect after they saw him reaching into his jacket. Family members and eye-witnesses say the man was apparently unarmed, and that officers fired on him while his back was turned. As the South Salt Lake PD continues to investigate, new comments and allegations are beginning to emerge.
Every day, police officers willingly brave dangerous situations that have the potential to end in injury and even death. In cases where suspects are threatening physical violence, officers must defend innocent bystanders and protect their own lives, sometimes with lethal force. But what if a suspect isn’t armed? Three officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department have been placed on administrative leave while investigators probe the death of a man who was fatally shot outside of a 7-Eleven in South Salt Lake earlier this week. Some reports say the man was brandishing a handgun, but other accounts say the man was unarmed.
In November of 2009, police officers made a grisly discovery: the bodies of 30-year-old Matthew Roddy and his mother, 53-year-old Pamela Knight Jeffries, wrapped in garbage bags and stuffed into a closet in their Weber County mobile home. Then-33-year-old Jeremy Valdes was named as a murder suspect, with law enforcement suspecting additional aid from his girlfriend, 26-year-old Miranda Statler. Statler later pleaded guilty, received and served a sentence, and has since been released from Utah State Prison on parole. But while Statler’s story is more or less finished, for Valdes, the years-long legal battle is still in progress today. Recently, a new development in the case has created an obstacle for the defense: in late July, 2nd District Judge Mark DeCaria granted the prosecution’s request to block two medical experts from testifying about an fMRI brain scan.
The Salt Lake City Police Department has been selected as one of four in the country to be the focus of a new federal study aiming to determine best practices for handling sexual assault and rape cases. The selection isn’t entirely random, as the department’s procedures came under fire in April after a City Council meeting demanded answers for hundreds of unprocessed rape kits shelved from 2003 to 2011. Police Chief Chris Burbank says he welcomes the opportunity to be involved in the study, which is scheduled to begin in several months.
Jerry Lovelace of Lindon, Utah is being charged with multiple white collar felonies following allegations of fraud in the tens of thousands. Lovelace allegedly scammed his former neighbor in the town of Orem into investing approximately $43,000 in a non-existent “business opportunity.” Local authorities were tipped off to suspicious activity after a victim of the alleged scheme came forward to complain about delays around the “product.” Now, Lovelace is facing one count of communications fraud, and two counts of forgery. How does Utah define white collar crimes, and what could happen to Lovelace if he is convicted?
As we wrote about in this post last month, capital punishment is an intensely divisive issue — and a large part of the controversy behind it is the apparent agony in which many condemned prisoners have died. In today’s system, lethal injection is touted as a “clean” and “humane” alternative to older and less refined methods of execution, such as hanging and electrocution. But while no one disputes that asphyxiation and electric shock are brutal, many are dubious that an injection of deadly chemicals is any better. In fact, it might even be worse. With one botched injection after another appearing in recent headlines, some frustrated voices within the legal community are calling for reform. Could Utah be bringing its now-defunct firing squad option back as an option for prisoners on death row?
It may be surprising to many people that criminal co-defendants are not automatically granted their own trial. That is, a co-defendant may be tried along with a co-conspirator or individual who allegedly worked with the accused. However in many, if not in most, instances it is not in the defendant’s best interest to proceed with a consolidated defense. But, because courts generally favor the consolidation of matters, or one criminal trial of all defendants, it can be a difficult battle to convince a judge to sever the defendants so that you can proceed as the sole defendant in the matter. But an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Darwin Overson of Cohne, Rappaport & Segal P.C, can increase the likelihood of of a favorable result. Continue reading
Reactions to the arrests of two former Utah Attorney Generals for white collar crimes have been extremely diverse. Utah House Speaker Becky Lockheart considered the events illustrative of “…a positive thing that we hold people accountable for their actions.” However current Governor Gary Herbert disagreed. He expressed that the charges against the pair for public corruption were a “black eye” and marked a “sad day” for the state. Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee seemed to synthesize elements of both the Speaker’s and the Governor’s remarks in stating “No one takes any joy in these arrests today, or these charges. But one thing I take solace in is the fact the system works.”