Remaining charges against Nelson-Waggoner are dropped
State has option to re-file in series of sex crimes
The four remaining charges of rape and aggravated sexual assault against Stacey Nelson-Waggoner were dismissed "without prejudice" Tuesday in 1st District Court.
At the hearing, Cache County Attorney Scott Wyatt surprised Judge Gordon Low with his motion to dismiss the remaining charges against Nelson-Waggoner.
"Including this one?" Low asked, and after Wyatt assured him, he added, "I don't imagine the defense has any objection."
Nelson-Waggoner is serving a sentence amounting to 15 years to life in Utah State Prison for two rape convictions, which are on appeal.
"We think we've accomplished our two-fold goal," Wyatt said. "We wanted at least one solid conviction and we wanted him to serve a long sentence. With 15-to-life, I think we've exceeded that."
The appeal on the first conviction is before the Utah Supreme Court. The challenge is based on the admission of evidence of prior crimes. In 1998, without prior crimes evidence, a Brigham City jury found Nelson-Waggoner not guilty on a separate charge of rape.
The second conviction was obtained with the testimony of only one victim. An appeal has been filed, but Cache County Attorney Scott Wyatt is unsure of the grounds of that appeal. He said his office feels secure of the validity of the conviction.
Wyatt mentioned another reason his office will not be pursuing the case further.
"We think we're punishing him more by taking him out of the spotlight than we would be by giving him more jail time," Wyatt said. "He loves an audience."
Because the cases were dismissed without prejudice, the county could re-file the cases at any time within the three-year statute of limitations.
Waggoner's attorney, Bel-Ami Jean de Montreux said that if the cases are re-filed, his client's right to a speedy trial would be infringed. But Judge Low refused to order the case be dismissed outright.
"That's an issue that will come up," Low said. "But I can't force the state to drop them with prejudice, neither can I force them to prosecute."
Wyatt said the decision to dismiss was not easy. The cost of prosecuting Nelson-Waggoner has risen to about $200,000. In the end, Wyatt said the extra time Nelson-Waggoner could spend in prison did not justify any extra cost to the county.
Wyatt did not seem concerned about Montreux's objection based on the right to a speedy trial.
"I would welcome that from him," Wyatt said. "Prior counsels have done everything they could to slow (the process) down."
Montreux is Nelson-Waggoner's ninth attorney since he was arrested in February 1997.