Utah Felony Drug Cases May Be Dismissed

Police Chief pleads the 5th

10 felony drug cases in Escalante Utah may be dismissed as former police Chief Kevin Worlton refused to testify in court. Worlton objected to the subpoena to testify in the drug cases, stating that the information he would provide would likely incriminate him.

Photo: Greg Willis

Photo: Greg Willis

Losing the trust of a town

As the only police chief for a town of less than 1,000 people Kevin Worlton wore the badge of trust and respect exclusively. He was solely responsible for serving and protecting the small town of Escalante Utah. Worlton betrayed the trust of those he protected by falsifying documents to acquire search and arrest warrants during an investigation. These fabrications supported the arrest of 6 people.

The investigation and lies begin

In December 2014, then police Chief Kevin Worlton began an investigation on drug use and distribution in Escalante Utah. Starting his investigation, Worlton came to the home of a suspected drug user. He instigated a conversation with the female suspect in which she divulged details that incriminated her. This implicating information the subject provided allowed Worlton to gain a warrant for a blood and urine sample. During this exchange the subject was speaking freely and had not been read her Miranda rights prior to this interaction. However, later when Worlton was seeking warrants to search other Escalante homes, he stated that she had been read her Miranda rights preceding her statements. An audio recording of this conversation verified that was false.

The lies continue

By using information from the first subject, Worlton obtained search warrants for other homes. At one of these homes, Worlton questioned another female suspect inquiring if contacts of hers were selling marijuana. Even though the subject indicated that she didn’t know, Warlton changed her statement in documents to make it seem that she had in fact named her acquaintances as drug distributors. The charges for those contacts went from a simple possession charge to a third-degree felony of distribution because of Worlton’s altered information. Unfortunately for Warlton, this conversation was also being recorded and showed his documented information as being false.

Arrests made based on deceptive information

With the facts Warlton obtained in his investigation mingled with the phony information he added, 6 individuals were arrested. The charges against these people ranged from class B misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. 4 of those arrested have already pleaded guilty to their charges. Conveniently for Warlton, he waited days after the 4 subjects had pleaded guilty to turn in his police reports with the fabricated information.

Charges against the former officer

As evidence of his wrongdoings came to light, Worlton was placed on temporary paid administrative leave in January 2015. Worlton was later terminated from his position as sole police chief of Escalante Utah. Not only did he lose his job, his dishonesty earned him 2 second-degree felonies for making false statements on police reports and a class B misdemeanor for not keeping his reports in order. Although he will not appear in court to testify in the 10 felony cases, he will appear in court on May 21 for his own charges.

Professional legal advice for drug charges

The 4 individuals that have already pleaded guilty to the drug charges will hopefully have their pleas withdrawn. Any information obtained in Worlton’s investigation to charge the 6 individuals is tainted because of his deceitfulness with documented information. This along with his refusal to testify may get all 10 felony cases thrown out. This experience is an excellent example of why being knowledgeable about your rights is imperative, especially before you appear in court. If you are facing drug charges, call an educated criminal defense attorney to study the facts and ensure that your charges are not the result of falsified information.

DUI Automobile Homicide for Man Involved in High-Speed Pursuit

DUI automobile homicide after high-speed pursuit

Photo: Public Domain

A man arrested last May after a crash that killed the three other passengers in his vehicle pleaded guilty to DUI automobile homicide on Friday, March 27. One of the passengers was the driver’s girlfriend, and the others were juveniles.

Attempting to Flee Always a Bad Idea

Trying to flee from police officers always makes things worse. At the very least, it adds additional felony charges onto what might have been simple misdemeanors had the suspect chosen not to flee. However, for Jonathan Ulises Analco-Cruz, 24, attempting to flee led to a high-speed crash that landed him with multiple counts of DUI automobile homicide.

According to KSL News, on May 17, 2014, an officer attempted to pull over Cruz for doing 60 mph in a 35 mph zone at Salt Lake City International Airport. Cruz accelerated with erratic lane changes as he sped toward eastbound I-80, at which point court documents state that the officer ended the pursuit for public safety reasons.

However, near the I-215 interchange, Cruz apparently lost control of his vehicle and rolled it several times. A reconstruction of the incident indicated that Cruz was going 103 mph when he lost control. Cruz was found at the scene in critical condition. His girlfriend, Michaela Martin, 18, was killed on the crash, as were two male juveniles, ages 17 and 14.

Cruz’s blood-alcohol level was 0.21, almost three times the Utah legal limit of 0.08, and THC was found in his system. Court records indicate that an arrest warrant had been issued for Cruz just nine days earlier for failing to pay a fine and driving infractions.

Cruz pleaded guilty to two counts of DUI automobile homicide and failure to stop at an officer’s command, all second degree felonies.

When a DUI Misdemeanor Becomes a DUI Automobile Homicide Felony

As stated at the beginning of this post, attempting to flee is always a bad idea. Had Cruz consented to be pulled over, he would’ve most likely received a speeding ticket and a DUI charge, a class B misdemeanor provided he didn’t injure anyone or hadn’t been convicted before. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Instead, Cruz attempted to flee and killed three people in the process. Now he has three second degree felonies he is facing. A single second degree felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The most important thing to remember is not to take your changes attempting to flee from police if you are driving under the influence. However, if you or someone you know has already been charged with DUI automobile homicide charges, don’t leave the potential of losing fifteen years of your life in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.

Aggravated Robbery Suspect Robbed Same Pharmacy Once Before

aggravated robbery suspect robbed same pharmacy

Photo: DWT110/Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, March 18, a La Verkin man who was arrested following the March 11 robbery of a Hurricane pharmacy was charged with more than just aggravated robbery for that incident. He was also given additional charges for a previous robbery at the same location almost a year earlier to the date.

Don’t Return to the Scene of the Crime, Especially not to Rob it Again

According to an article in KSL News, just before noon on March 11, Jonathan S. Forest, 37, entered the Hurricane Family Pharmacy, displayed what was later discovered to be an airsoft gun, and made demands for prescription medication.

A witness to the robbery followed Forest after he left the pharmacy. A call to 911 resulted in an arrest of Forest within 6 minutes of the robbery. Forest had the prescription medication and black airsoft gun on his possession. This led to the original charge of aggravated robbery.

However, between his arrest and conviction on March 18, officers were able to link Forest to another robbery of the same pharmacy on March 31, 2014. After obtaining a search warrant for Forest’s place of residence, detectives located evidence “consistent with the first robbery.”

As a result of these new discoveries, Forest was charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and nine counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Airsoft Guns Still Result in Aggravated Robbery

According to the Utah Criminal Code 76-6-302 as it applies to this story, aggravated robbery is defined as the act of someone carrying out a robbery and in the process, using or threatening to use “a dangerous weapon as defined 76-1-601.” In that article of the Utah Criminal Code, a dangerous weapon is defined as “any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”

While some may question whether an airsoft gun could cause “serious bodily injury,” the article goes on to define a dangerous weapon as “a facsimile or representation of the item, if…the actor’s use or apparent intended use of the item leads the victim to reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or the actor represents to the victim verbally or in any other manner that he is control of such an item.”

Aggravated robbery is considered a first degree felony, punishable by anywhere from five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you know someone who has been charged with aggravated robbery, don’t leave that wide interpretation of punishment in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.