Defense Motion Stalls Haught's Resentencing

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The resentencing of Star Valley businessman Roy George Haught, who was convicted more than a year ago of aggravated assault and negligent homicide, has been delayed.


Haught's attorney filed a motion for reconsideration April 19 with the Arizona Court of Appeals, and judges from Division 2 are evaluating that motion --a fact that has Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose scratching his head.


"I don't understand it," DeRose said Friday. "The deadline for filing any kind of motion for reconsideration was April 17. The defense attorney filed his motion April 19. I don't understand why the Court of Appeals is even considering it."


In March, the Court of Appeals ruled that Gila County Superior Court Judge Edd Dawson acted improperly last year when he overruled a key provision in the jury's decision so he could give Haught a lighter sentence.


The jury found Haught guilty of negligent homicide and aggravated assault in connection with the 1997 death of Strawberry resident James Cooper following a fight between the two men.


The jury declared the charges "dangerous crimes," which require mandatory prison time.


Dawson, however, disregarded the dangerous crimes element of the verdict and sentenced 37-year-old Haught to a six-month jail term and five years probation.


Chief Judge Philip Espinosa, Presiding Judge J. William Brammer Jr., and Judge Joseph Howard concluded "that the trial court here abused its discretion when it revisited the factual determination of seriousness."


The appellate court ordered the case back to Judge Dawson for resentencing.


In a motion dated April 17, Haught's Phoenix attorney Neal Bassett wrote that legal precedence by the Supreme Court says that "fists and body parts are not dangerous weapons or instruments.


"Because (Haught) was found guilty of an offense involving only negligence, a sentencing allegation involving weapons or intentional or knowing conduct, simply did not apply."


The case remains in the hands of the Court of Appeals, DeRose said, pending a decision on this latest motion.

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