Haught Defense Requests New Trial

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Payson attorney Arthur Lloyd filed a motion Jan. 11 to throw out the negligent homicide and aggravated assault convictions against his client Roy George Haught of Star Valley, claiming that newly discovered facts warrant a new trial.

The motion, which was filed with the Gila County Court, claims that new evidence points to a different suspect in the 1997 death of 53-year-old James Cooper of Strawberry.

The motion also accuses Gila County prosecutors of misconduct and contends that Haught's former defense attorney, Tracey Westerhausen, was so ineffective her client didn't get a fair trial.

Haught, who owns an excavating company in Star Valley, was found guilty in February 1999 of negligent homicide and aggravated assault crimes deemed by the jury to be "dangerous" in nature, a provision that requires prison time.

During sentencing, however, Gila County Superior Court Judge Edd Dawson disregarded the dangerous crimes element of the verdict, and imposed a lighter sentenced. Dawson sentenced Haught to six months in jail with credit for time already served and placed him on five years of probation.

Former Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose the chief prosecutor in the case at the time immediately filed a motion with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court eventually ruled that "the trial court ... abused its discretion," and sent the case back for resentencing.

Instead, Haught's council requested a Supreme Court ruling, but after inspecting the facts of the case, the court let the Court of Appeal's ruling stand and sent the case back to Gila County for resentencing.

Last week, Dawson said he was aware of the mandate, and was working to fit Haught's resentencing hearing into his schedule.

"We've contacted both attorneys, and they're supposed to be checking their calendars and getting back to us," Dawson said Tuesday.

"The court will have to set this hearing before they set the sentencing hearing," Lloyd said. "This hearing will have to go first."

Newly elected County Attorney James Hazel said he turned the case over to his chief deputy, Dennis McCarthy, for review to see if his new administration will have any conflict in the case.

DeRose said he sees no possible reason for a new trial.

"As the prosecutor in the case, I can't image that there would be anything that is new," DeRose now in private practice said. "This is the third lawyer to look at the case. It's been reviewed by the Court of Appeals and the (Arizona) Supreme Court. I can't imagine there's anything in there that would justify reversal."

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