Police don't want gun cache returned to attorney in stalking case
Cottonwood Heights police
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A woman who said she was stalked by a man who fired four rounds into her home doesn't believe he should get his weapons back.
Cottonwood Heights police agree with her.
The police department has made a request to prosecutors asking them to convince the judge to allow them to permanently seize the numerous weapons they took from the home of Harold W. Stone III following his arrest — including an AR-15, an AK-47 replica and many other assault rifles — rather than return them.
"We requested that the D.A. ask that the guns be forfeited to (Cottonwood Heights police). It doesn't make much sense that if a person pushes their girlfriend they can have his guns taken away, but if you shoot up a house you get them back," said Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo.
But Stone, a Midvale attorney, already accepted a plea bargain with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office that recommends the guns be returned to him once he's completed probation.
Stone pleaded guilty to felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony. In exchange for his plea, charges of stalking with a dangerous weapon and obstruction of justice were dismissed and prosecutors agreed to recommend probation instead of jail time. He is scheduled to be sentenced Monday. The case was not classified as a domestic violence incident, a key point in returning the firearms.
If the judge accepts the plea bargain, Stone's conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor after he successfully completes probation and all the guns will be returned, according to court records.
Victim Angie Johnston said she never agreed to the plea deal and is worried about him having his many weapons again. "Giving his guns back is the worst thing he could have," she said. "I had hoped that he would get more than just a slap on the wrist."
Stone was arrested in June of 2010 after firing four shots into Johnston's condominium, 7265 S. 1950 East. No one was inside at the time.
At that time, both Johnston and Stone worked at the law firm Stone & Law. Johnston, who was married at one time to Stone's brother, said Stone would get drunk at night and text her telling her how much he loved her.
Stone eventually confessed to firing the shots into the condominium through a series of text messages, according to Cottonwood Heights police who included transcripts of those messages in their report of the incident.
Stone claimed he was going over to Johnston's residence to talk to her when he thought he saw someone with a flashlight inside, the report states.
"I knew I'd want somebody to do it for me and it was u. So I went to the back ... stood by the patio with my gun, some dude poked his hand with a gun and head barely through the blinds," Stone allegedly texted. "I honestly don't know whether he shot first or I did, but I know I shot up at ur sons room and a couple of times at the back door."
Stone then texted that he "freaked out" and left without calling police, the report states.
"I'm sorry Angie, but I honestly think I did the right thing," he texted, according to the report.
Police never found any evidence of an intruder. And Johnston pointed out in a reply text that investigators determined all of the bullet holes in her home came from the outside.
Stone responded by calling the police investigator "Barney Fife," the report states, and then admitted to returning to the scene later to pick up the shell casings.
"Quit acting like ur a ... hero and i need to be thankin u! I know ur still lying. U shot my house," Johnston texted back.
Russo said once Stone fired those four rounds, he had no control over where those bullets ended up.
"We were lucky it wasn't catastrophic," he said.
On July 16, 2010, Cottonwood Heights police served search warrants on Stone's business and residence. At his office, they found a loaded Glock .357 in his desk with one round in the chamber and 12 more in a loaded magazine in addition to an assortment of other bullets, according to the report.
That night, officers served the no-knock warrant on his house by forcing entry. In the bedroom, "two loaded handguns with tactical lights" were found next to a mattress and a loaded shotgun was found in the corner of the room, the report states. A rifle case next to the mattress contained an AR-15 assault rifle and "an AK-47 replica assault rifle," according to the report.
In addition, officers said they located "numerous assault rifles" in the closet as well as 12 more handguns and "a large amount of various caliber ammunition."
Stone did have a concealed weapons permit at the time of the incident.
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