Three Utah Women Arrested For Felony Obstruction of Justice for Helping Fugitive Evade Police

A manhunt in Herriman finally ended with the arrest of the fugitive as well as felony obstruction of justice charges for three Utah women who helped him evade police custody.

Police manhunt

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In late January startled residents of the town of Herriman, Utah were told to shelter in place and local schools were put on lockdown as police attempted to locate a 33 year old man who had shot at police, broke into a home, shot the homeowner, and then got away in a stolen vehicle. Justin Gary Llewelyn was eventually caught five days later after another police chase successfully ended with a dramatic PIT maneuver from an pursuing officer.

Help from family

Llewelyn will face numerous charges for his violent acts towards police and the public, but there are three women that are also facing charges for their part in the story. 50 year old Tasha Llewelyn, 24 year old Misty Llewelyn, and 35 year old Keria Jessica Hartley-Johnson who are all likely relatives of Justin Llewelyn are facing felony charges of obstruction of justice after they helped their fugitive relative elude investigators.

Obstruction of justice

Utah Code 76-8-306 states, “An actor commits obstruction of justice if the actor, with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense:

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a) provides any person with a weapon;
b) prevents by force, intimidation, or deception, any person from performing any act that might aid in the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person;
c) alters, destroys conceals, or removes any item or other thing;
d) makes, presents or uses any item or thing known by the actor to be false;
e) harbors or conceals a person;
f) provides a person with transportation, disguise, or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension;
g) warns any person of impending discovery or apprehension;
h) warns any person of an order authorizing the interception of wire communications . . . ;
i) conceals information that is not privileged and that concerns the offense, after a judge . . . has ordered the actor to provide the information; or
j) provides false information regarding a suspect, a witness, the conduct constituting an offense, or any other material aspect of the investigation.”

Felony charges for helping a fugitive

Knowingly helping a friend, family member, or an acquaintance skirt being arrested by police comes with hefty charges, especially if the person being helped has committed serious offenses.
• If the charges the fugitive is trying to evade are capital or first degree felonies such is the case with Justin Llewelyn, anyone helping them faces second degree obstruction of justice.
• If the charges being dodged are second or third degree felonies and the helper prevents another from aiding authorities, removes or adds things that could be used during the investigation, or helps hide a person or aid in their escape, that accomplice could face a third degree felony.

• If someone assists a person in avoiding any charges lesser than a first degree felony and they give the fugitive a weapon, they may also face a third degree felony.

• Any other case of obstruction of justice is a class A misdemeanor.

All three women were found to have helped Llewelyn evade police custody either by hiding him, lying to officers or otherwise getting in the way of the investigation. They have all been charged with second degree obstruction of justice and are looking at a possibility of up to 15 years in prison and a fine as high as $10,000. For legal aid regarding obstruction of justice charges or any other charged related to being an accomplice to a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Charges for Sneaking Drugs into Jail

When someone is arrested in Utah, they may attempt sneaking drugs into jail with them which could end in serious criminal charges.

Reasons for hiding drugs on a person

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There are multiple reasons why someone would decide to bring drugs with them upon an arrest. The offender may be an addict who is afraid or feels incapable of going any amount of time without a fix. Another reason is when an arrestee wants to limit the amount of criminal charges by not offering up evidence that could be used against them in court. When this occurs and someone is in possession of illegal drugs in the presence of a police officer, they may attempt to ditch the evidence or even hide it on their person to avoid it being found by law enforcement.

Failure or success at concealment of drugs

If someone is found to be attempting to conceal, destroy or otherwise get rid of drug evidence during an arrest, they could face obstruction of justice, which would then accompany the possession charge. If police to not discover the drugs and the offender is transported to the county jail still in possession of illegal contraband, once discovered they may face charges greater than if the drugs were found prior to transport.

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One degree higher than possession charge

Utah law does not permit offenders or visitors to bring illegal contraband anywhere inside or on the property of any jail, prison, or other correctional facility in Utah. Utah Code 58-37-8 states if a person is found to be “for the purpose of facilitating, arranging, or causing the transport, delivery, or distribution of [an illegal] substance . . . to an inmate or on the ground of any correctional facility . . . [they are] guilty of one degree more than the maximum penalty prescribed for that offense.” Whether hiding drugs to use while at jail or hiding them to keep criminal charges down, sneaking drugs into jail is never worth it. For more information on these charges or those leading to an arrest, contact a criminal defense attorney.

State Forensic Chemist Causes Thousands of Falsified Drug Convictions

A state forensic chemist out of Massachusetts fabricated positive tests, leading to thousands of falsified drug convictions.

Playing with the freedom of others

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Annie Dookhan, a state forensic chemist who worked for the state of Massachusetts for several years until her arrest in 2013 admitted that over the course of her employment, she had sent back tens of thousands of drug tests with positive results that had either not been tested or had been falsified to product a positive test. She was convicted of tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and perjury and served. She has since been released after serving half of her five year sentence while those she helped convict are just now seeing the light of freedom.

Free again

More than 21,000 drug convictions in the state of Massachusetts were dismissed following Dookhan’s arrest and those falsely accused were finally released from prison. Unfortunately, many of those falsely imprisoned had already spent several years behind bars prior to Dookhan’s arrest and after while the prosecution worked feverishly to keep as many imprisoned as possible. Although 21,000 individuals are no longer facing drug charges thanks to the high court of Massachusetts, their lives, including personal relationships and employment, may be forever damaged following being falsely imprisoned.

Not a one-time crime

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Dookhan isn’t the only state appointed forensic chemist to toy around with the freedom of others by altering test results. A few others include:

• Another Massachusetts forensic chemist named Sonja Farak was prosecuted the same year as Dookhan for stealing drugs from the lab she was employed at and using those drugs while working. Thousands of cases were tainted by the trusted chemist who was working while high.

• Joyce Gilchrist was another forensic chemist out of Oklahoma who, like Dookhan, tampered with evidence leading to false positive DNA test results.

• Kamalkant Shan, a lab tech who was released from his job at the State of New Jersey Police Laboratory in 2016 was caught officially recording that drugs had been tested when they hadn’t.

• In 2016 a forensic chemist working for the Utah Department of Public Safety was arrested for sexual crimes against children. Although none of his crimes occurred at his place of employment, it could show him unreliable to produce honest work, leaving many cases to be questioned.

The above names are just a few of several state employed workers who, of their own accord, may have had a hand in placing innocent persons behind bars.

Incentive for state forensic chemists

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Although no one is exactly sure why state forensic chemists such as Dookhan tampered with evidence, the incentive could be nothing more than exceeding their quota. Dookhan was seen as an exceptional employee by returning three times the amount of drug tests than other chemists do on average. While Dookhan wasn’t reward monetarily beyond her annual six-figure income, the fame and acknowledgement from coworkers and supervisors may have been enough to drive her to over-succeed. Another possible reason for falsifying test results could be pure laziness. Performing the same tests, day in and day out may get repetitive and tedious. Perhaps those who chose to “dry-lab”, or produce test results without performing a tests, failed to perceive a major concern to cut corners on testing as the tests appeared insignificant to ensure a guilty verdict. For whatever reason, forensic chemists should be upheld to a higher standard since they are partly responsible for the freedom or imprisonment of others. In order to ensure that, laboratories that are funded by federal or state governments should be properly accredited.

Don’t rely on drug tests

Many of those convicted ended up admitting guilt after having their test results come back positive. When faced with what should be hard evidence, the wisest choice may appear to plead guilty and take a plea deal if possible. This is a decision that is best dealt with while being supported by an experienced criminal defense attorney.