Was deal in City Creek shooting plot yanked over political pressure?
"In explaining its decision, the state explained that it had received communications (including emails) from officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department and from Kirton/McConkie, counsel for City Creek Center, regarding the anticipated resolution and dismissal of Mr. Stiles' case," defense attorneys wrote in a motion filed last week. "Defense counsel was told that in light of these communications the state would no longer be honoring the informal diversion agreement."
State prosecutors allegedly told the defense that police and City Creek officials would rather see the state lose the case at a preliminary hearing than dismiss it, the motion states. If the case was dismissed as part of the plea deal, "press conferences would be held assigning liability on the (district attorney's) office and (Salt Lake Legal Defender Association)."
"The state clearly represented that it was under pressure to not dismiss this case, and that in light of the publicity a different resolution needed to be reached," the motion states, adding that it was also suggested that police somehow threatened Stiles.
The motion requests additional, specific information from prosecutors about these communications. Hamilton said he tried to be discreet about the issue in an initial motion as they understand the potential sensitivities and tried to avoid publicly discussing plea negotiations, but eventually had to outline the defense's request to obtain the information as the case moves forward.
"If these representations are true, then this is information that is essential for my client to have a fair trial," Hamilton said. "I don't know if these representations are true or not. I have to look into that and see if the representations made by the state regarding these statements are accurate.
"We are confident about what the state told us, but, unfortunately, we can't be confident about whether that's accurate."
Gill said an informal diversion agreement is "legal fiction." Generally, it is common for there to be a number of discussions about possible plea agreements, he said, but the prosecution team handling each case makes the ultimate decision.
Defense attorneys have also filed a motion to disqualify Gill's office, alleging that "newly assigned prosecutor" Heather McGinley violated state law by obtaining confidential information about Stiles from treatment providers and then sharing that with others in her office as well as other third parties.
Gill said McGinley is on his office's mental health court team and is working on the case with the lead prosecutor, Jeff Hall. He said his office will address the motions in court filings and before a judge.
"They're entitled to make their motions and we will address them in court," Gill said.
A hearing has been set for June 6. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for the following week.
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