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

Photo by: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916

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:

Photo by: Orin Zebest

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.

Utah Funeral Procession Laws

Utah traffic laws apply to the majority of motorists besides law enforcement and emergency services, yet individuals in a funeral procession may also be exempt from following certain rules of the road.

What traffic light?

Photo: RL GNZLZ

Photo: RL GNZLZ

Those who are part of a funeral procession don’t have to yield at stop signs or traffic lights as other motorist do. In fact, they have the right of way on the road over all automobiles except emergency vehicles. Anyone who interferes with an active funeral procession or impedes the memorial services in any way is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

Laws for the funeral procession

Although the traveling memorial service has the right of way, they also have guidelines they must follow to be allowed some liberties on public roadways. According to Utah Code 76-9-108, “at least one vehicle contains the body or remains of a deceased person being memorialized and the vehicles [included in the procession] are going to or from a memorial service.”

Identify the procession

Funeral Procession 2To help other motorists distinguish the funeral procession, Utah Code 76-9-108 states “the operators of the vehicles [in a funeral procession] identify themselves as being part of the procession by having the lamps or lights of the vehicle on and by keeping in close formation with the other vehicles in the procession.” Just as motorists are taught to be aware and move over when they observe flashing lights that signal the approach of law enforcement or emergency vehicles, if they additionally watch for a string of vehicles with their headlamps and hazard lights on, then they can avoid charges of impeding with a funeral procession.

Conspiracy to Impede an Officer

25 individuals including one man from Manti Utah were arrested and charged with conspiracy to impede an officer for their involvement in the standoff of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon.

Protesting a reimprisonment of ranchers

Photo by: Sam Beebe

Photo by: Sam Beebe

Just after New Year’s Day 2016, nearly 300 people peacefully marched down the streets of Burns Oregon. They were protesting the reimprisonment of two cattle ranchers, father and son Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond. Dwight and Steven were sent to prison in 2012 for arson after on two separate occasions they started fires on federal land that their own land bordered. Although they served the time that they were originally sentenced to, federal prosecutors chose to appeal the sentencing, claiming they hadn’t spent enough time behind bars to fit their crime. The 73 year old father and his 46 year old son were each resentenced to five years in prison with credit for time served.

Taking things too far

Following the quiet demonstration in Burns Oregon, a group of protesters claiming to defend the Hammons armed themselves and broke off from the crowd. They headed to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the bird and wildlife sanctuary that surrounded the Hammond farm and is blamed for taking over the natural water sources for that area. The group occupying the refuge headquarters demanded that the father and son Hammond be released of their new sentencing, and that all federal land along with water rights be given back to the people. More militia were recruited, while threats of violence and civil unrest were voiced on social media, alarming federal employees who were unable to return to work.

Freedom to peaceably assemble

Photo by: Ed Uthman

Photo by: Ed Uthman

According to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the Unites States: “Congress shall make no law (. . . ) prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Every American citizen has the right to speak up or protest, as long as it is done so calmly and without threat or harm to those around them. A respectable march is legal and protected by the constitution. Conspiring to take over a federal building and impede an officer by obstructing federal employees who are attempting to carry on with their required duties is against the law.

Conspiracy to impede an officer

18 U.S. Code 373 states: “If two or more persons in any State, Territory, Possession, or District conspire to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States, or from discharging any duties thereof, or to induce by like means any officer of the United States to leave the place, where his duties as an officer are required to be performed, or to injure him in his person or property on account of his lawful discharge of the duties of his office, or while engaged in the lawful discharge thereof, or to injure his property so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties, each of such persons shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six years, or both.”

Hammonds due to be released before conspirators

Conspiracy to Impede an Officer

Photo by: DonkeyHotey

Unfortunately, if any of the 25 indicted for conspiracy to impede an officer serve the full sentencing possible for the charges, they wouldn’t be set to be released until well after Dwight and Steven Hammond had served their new sentencing terms. The prison time for those conspirators would exceed the prison time of those they were attempting to protect. Even if the charges are dropped, those 25 individuals are going to be less likely to proceed with their “petition the government for a redress of grievances” regarding the Hammonds until after their own court proceedings are completed. When protesting an unjust act of law, it is important to follow the rules regarding demonstrations and fully understand what allowances the First Amendment gives American citizens regarding freedom of speech and assembly.