The Arizona Court of Appeals denied Roy George Haught's motion Tuesday to reconsider its ruling that he received too lienient a sentence for his role in the 1997 death of Strawberry resident James Cooper.
The Star Valley businessman now has until May 22 to ask the state's highest court to review his case.
"That petition for review goes to the Arizona Supreme Court," Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose said, "and if they decide to review it, they'll look over the initial case and the Court of Appeal's opinion to see if any mistakes were made."
In February 1999, a Gila County jury found Haught guilty of negligent homicide and aggravated assault for the death of Cooper, a mechanic who lived and worked in Strawberry. The jury further found the crimes to be considered dangerous, a legal provision that requires mandatory prison terms.
During sentencing, Superior Court Judge Edd Dawson disregarded the dangerous crimes element of the verdict, clearing the way for a lighter sentence. Dawson sentenced Haught to a six-month jail term, plus five years probation.
As lead prosecutor in the case, DeRose immediately filed an appeal to the appellate court, and after reviewing the case, 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 opted for the lighter sentence.
Last month, Haught's attorney Neal Bassett filed a motion asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to send the case back to Dawson for resentencing.
The Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday to deny that motion.