Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom has declined a judge's offer to let prosecutors continue with a capital murder case despite a bench ruling dismissing charges against Daniel R. Troyer.
Yocom also reproached 3rd District Judge Scott Daniels in writing Thursday. He said neither Troyer nor the people of Utah would have a speedy trial "because of the events which have transpired in your courtroom since . . . (the case) was assigned to you."On April 23, Daniels verbally granted a defense motion to dismiss the case against Troyer, who was charged with capital homicide, burglary and being a habitual criminal following the 1988 death of 88-year-old Ethel Luckau.
The motion came after Deputy County Attorney Greg Skordas told Daniels that his previous orders suppressing key evidence had gutted the case.
But on Monday, attorneys meeting to review Daniels' findings were told by the judge that the charges were still active and could go to trial within three weeks because he had not signed an order and issued a formal ruling.
Yocom told the judge in a letter Thursday that instead of accepting the offer to withdraw the dismissal, the county will appeal Daniels' suppression rulings to the Utah Supreme Court in hopes of obtaining a reversal.
The suppressed evidence included alleged statements by Troyer and his sister, DNA tests of hairs found on the victim and compared to Troyer's, and a purported confession to a fellow inmate.
Yocom said that even if a trial could be conducted within 20 days, given the potential for "endless appeal issues" from the defense, the suppressions likely would result in an acquittal.
On the other hand, even a successful appeal would mean a trial with the evidence intact would take place nearly four years after the alleged crime, also reducing the chance of conviction, he said.
Yocom quoted court transcripts of Daniels' remarks that in a capital case with a death penalty, the defendant should be given "every shot there could possibly be."
Nevertheless, Yocom said, "I believe it would give the people of the state of Utah the best chance to have a fair trial in this case."
Daniels was in court and unavailable for comment Thursday. Defense attorneys James Valdez and Mark Moffat were not in their office.
Troyer, 31, remains in Utah State Prison on previous convictions for burglary and escape. He is eligible for parole at any time, prosecutors say.