Attorney's family upset after he is ordered to jail in stalking case
Cottonwood Heights police
SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a Midvale attorney had to be removed from a courtroom Monday after they erupted into shouts and sobs after the man was sentenced to one year in jail.
Harold W. Stone III, too, seemed stunned at the sentence, which also included three years' probation, as the bailiff handcuffed him.
"I need to get some affairs in order," he said.
"You've had plenty of time to do that," 3rd District Court Judge Robin Reese said. "You should have known this was a possibility."
The judge rejected a plea bargain recommending probation that both the victim and the Cottonwood Heights Police Department felt was too lenient.
Stone stood accused of going to the home of his secretary — with whom he said he had a relationship with — on June 2, 2010, and firing four shots into the condominium at 7265 S. 1950 East. The condo was vacant at the time, but Angie Johnston told the judge Monday that her belongings were still there and Stone didn't know she and her son weren't living there.
"I knew nobody was there," Stone said Monday. "(That) doesn't make it better. I just — I don't know. It's the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life."
Stone pleaded guilty to felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony, as part of a plea agreement in September. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dismissed charges of stalking with a dangerous weapon and obstruction of justice.
As part of the plea deal, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office agreed to recommend to the judge that Stone's guns be returned to him once he completed probation. Both Johnston and Cottonwood Heights police objected to the deal after it was made. The police department asked prosecutors to convince the judge to allow them to permanently seize the cache of weapons taken from Stone's home, including an AR-15, an AK-47 replica and many other assault rifles.
Monday, prosecutor Fred Burmeister recommended a sentence of probation and that Stone's conviction even be reduced to a misdemeanor after he completed probation. But a pre-sentence report from Adult Probation and Parole recommended that Stone serve 365 days in jail.
Stone questioned the recommendation in court, saying he has no criminal history and argued that the report departed from what he said were the regular sentencing guidelines.
"Any jail time is going to collapse my practice, devastate my home, everything. Again, it's just me and my daughter, your honor," he said. "I'm a single dad, that's it, there's no one else."
Stone's father, mother, brother and daughter all addressed the judge.
"My son made a mistake," Harold Stone, Jr., the man's father, told the judge. "He admitted it. We've talked about it a lot. He's a good boy."
Stone's brother, Alexander, said he was married to the victim and could confirm that she was in on ongoing relationship with Harold Stone III, despite her reports that she had been stalked.
"My dad is an amazing person," Stone's daughter, Deirdre, told the judge. "I don't know what I would do or where I would be without him."
Johnston said Stone terrorized her family and failed to take responsibility for his actions.
"I'm terrified of Harold retaliating," she said. "I'm afraid of him having another night of heavy drinking and returning to my house."
The woman's parents also testified of the fear that struck their family in the two weeks between the shooting and Stone's arrest. Annie Johnson, Johnston's mother, said she and her daughter had to switch cars because Johnston was too afraid of Stone to drive her own.
"If you let Mr. Stone off with slap on the wrist, what kind of message does that send everybody?" Johnston's father, John Salazar, said. "This is a grown man who has been around for a while and understood the law and the system. ... This man is a dangerous man and this man needs to be taught a lesson."
Reese told Stone that the plea deal he was offered was a "considerable break" in the case at the front end, but that he felt he needed to follow the recommendation for a jail sentence. Stone's family broke into screaming and sobs, with his parents shouting at the judge and the victim.
Stone's parents and daughter were removed from the courtroom by bailiffs as they continued to shout and disrupt the proceedings.
"I think it's hard for both sides," Johnston said after the hearing. "I'm just glad it's over with."
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