ST. GEORGE Attorneys for Allen Glade Steed are seeking a dismissal of the first-degree felony rape charge filed against him and a change of venue, arguing the potential jury pool is irreparably tainted following the recent trial and conviction of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs in St. George.
Steed was charged with rape the day after Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to rape for his role in conducting a 2001 spiritual marriage between then 19-year-old Steed and an unwilling 14-year-old cousin, Elissa Wall.
Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice and is to be sentenced on Tuesday. He could receive up to life in prison on each count.
In the motion for a change of venue, Steed's Salt Lake City attorneys, Jim Bradshaw and Mark Moffat, note that the state chose to charge Jeffs as an accomplice to rape and pursue his conviction before charging Steed with a crime.
"Since the prosecution strategically decided they would conduct the high-profile trial of the accomplice before leveling charges at Mr. Steed, they now must live with the consequences of their plan, including the reality that empaneling a fair and impartial jury in southern Utah is an impossibility," according to the motion filed Wednesday in 5th District Court.
Washington County deputy attorney Brian Filter said Thursday that while he could not discuss specifics of the case, the state has always maintained its approach has been fair to all concerned.
"We just saw these documents yesterday, and it will take some time to review the case law they've cited," said Filter, who is tasked with prosecuting the case against Steed. The state's reply likely won't be ready until early next week, he added.
In a separate motion, Steed's attorneys asked 5th District Judge G. Rand Beacham to dismiss the case, arguing the state's calculated delay in charging Steed violated his state and federal constitutional rights to a fair trial.
Wall first filed a civil case seeking unspecified damages against Jeffs and the financial arm of the FLDS Church before speaking with law enforcement. In that civil case, Wall accuses Jeffs and Steed of entering into a conspiracy and acting in concert to commit battery and sexual abuse against her.
"Prior to speaking with any law enforcement agency, the alleged victim (Wall) demanded specific concessions before she would allow her accusations to form the basis of a criminal prosecution," the motion states. "The result was a never-before-seen arrangement between the state and the alleged victim whereby Ms. Wall was granted the ability to dictate certain terms by which the state investigated and prosecuted the case."
In a "Confidentiality and Cooperation Agreement" dated Nov. 16, 2005, and signed by Wall and Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap, the state agreed to "discontinue its investigation and prosecution of Warren Jeffs if the agreement's terms were violated.
"In short, the victim and her lawyers, both of whom had a financial stake in the outcome of the pending civil case, dictated the manner in which the criminal case was investigated and prosecuted," Steed's motion states.
"In exchange for an opportunity to prosecute Warren Jeffs, the state agreed not to notify or talk with subjects or witnesses such as Allen Steed. Also pursuant to the terms of the agreement, the state was effectively precluded from providing any notice to Allen Steed that he was a suspect." The first time Steed learned he was a suspect was in late 2006, 12 months after Wall made her accusation and more than seven months after the rape charge against Jeffs had been filed. Steed still was not charged with a crime until after Jeffs had been convicted of being an accomplice to rape.
"Ms. Wall, through her civil attorneys, choreographed the manner in which this allegation was reported and charged. The focus was not on the fairness or integrity of the process but rather on maximizing financial recovery," the motion states. "The state signed that agreement with full knowledge that such a course would jeopardize Mr. Steed's right to a fair trial. The state, however, was more than willing to sign away Mr. Steed's rights in order to get at Mr. Jeffs."
In the 47-page motion to dismiss, Steed's attorneys assert that "it is impossible for him to be tried anywhere in a manner that is fully consistent with the fundamental principles of due process, presumption of innocence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right to a fair trial with impartial jurors".
"With full and considered knowledge of the media onslaught they were creating, the state made a calculated decision to put Mr. Steed on the back burner while they waged their very public legal assault against Mr. Jeffs,' the motion notes. "The state knew full well that their approach would ensure that all of Mr. Steed's potential jurors would be exposed to, think about, and reach conclusions regarding the guilt of Mr. Steed before he was ever charged." Steeds' attorneys also filed a request for any written documentation, audio or video recordings, field notes, emails, police reports or other records that apply to the Jeffs or Steed cases from various county, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Utah and Arizona.
The same information is requested from the law firm of Roger and Greg Hoole, who represent Wall; the law firm of Joanne Suder; the United Effort Plan Trust and /or its trustee Bruce Wisan; the Diversity Foundation, Ultradent and its owner, Dan Fischer; private investigator Sam Brower; Wall and her husband, Israel Lamont Barlow, and two sisters, Rebecca Musser and Theresa Blackmore.Steed is also seeking records of payment or denial of payment to those same individuals from the state"s Victims Reparation Fund; information that indicates a potential witness has requested or obtained money from a lawsuit, agent, book deal or appearance tied to the case; the complete criminal records, including juvenile records, of any potential witness; information that any potential witness has provided false information; and a notarized medical release form signed by Wall that authorizes the defendant to obtain her medical records, charts and history.
E-mail: [email protected]