Star Valley businessman Roy George Haught, who was convicted in 1999 of negligent homicide and aggravated assault, heads back to court next month to find out if he'll be sent to prison or granted a new trial.
A resentencing hearing in the case, which was ordered by the Arizona Court of Appeals, has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Gila County Superior Court in Payson.
Haught, who was accused of following 53-year-old James Cooper to his home in Strawberry and injuring Cooper during a fight that caused his death, was found guilty of "dangerous crimes," a provision of Arizona law that requires prison time.
However, Gila County Superior Court Judge Edd Dawson disregarded the dangerous crimes element of the verdict and sentenced Haught to five years of probation and six months in jail, with credit for time already served.
The prosecution appealed the case, and the Arizona Court of Appeals sent the case back to Gila County for resentencing, ruling that "the trial court ... abused its discretion" by disregarding the dangerous crimes provision of the law to allow for a lighter sentence. Although the defense appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, the high court refused to weigh in on the case.
Meanwhile, Haught's new defense attorney, Arthur Lloyd of Payson, filed a motion with the Gila County Superior Court Jan. 11, claiming that recently uncovered evidence warrants a new trial. The motion also claims that Haught's former attorney, Tracey Westerhausen of Phoenix, was so ineffective that Haught didn't receive a fair trial.
"It's my understanding that there will be an evidentiary hearing on (the date set for resentencing)," Lloyd said. "Since it's been mandated that (the case) go back for resentencing, the judge will probably start the sentencing process. In the middle, we'll probably start the evidentiary hearing."
But as always, Lloyd said, the court process is subject to continuation.