The Arizona Supreme Court sent the case of Roy George Haught back to the local superior court last week, when it passed on the motion for reconsideration filed last winter by the Gila County Attorney's Office.
"That means it goes back to superior court for resentencing," said Art Lloyd, the Payson attorney who is now representing Haught.
The case against Haught stems from a 1997 fight he had with Strawberry mechanic James Cooper. Cooper died in a Valley hospital six days after Haught admittedly hit him in the head.
In February 1999, a Gila County jury found Haught guilty of negligent homicide and aggravated assault, crimes found to be "dangerous" a legal provision that requires mandatory prison time. During sentencing, however, Superior Court Judge Edd Dawson disregarded the dangerous crimes element of the verdict, clearing the way for a lighter sentence.
Jerry DeRose, then Gila County attorney and the chief prosecutor of the case, immediately filed an appeal to the appellate court. The Court of Appeals ruled "that the trial court ... abused its discretion," and ordered that Haught be resentenced. Instead, his council requested a Supreme Court ruling.
"The Supreme Court denied review and the Court of Appeals has issued a mandate, remanding the case back to Judge (Edd) Dawson," Lloyd said.
Judge Dawson said he has received the Supreme Court mandate, and now has to set a new court date for sentencing.
"At that time, the defendant may want to present any new information that may be relevant, or may want to tell the court what he's done since the last sentencing hearing," Dawson said, "anything they think should impact the new sentencing. This is an opportunity for the defense to supplement its case, and then we'll sentence him."
As for the prosecution, newly elected County Attorney Jim Hazel said he won't be handling the case.
"I have never represented Mr. Haught, so it's not a legal conflict as far as I'm concerned," Hazel said. "But I've assigned Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McCarthy to look into it."