Attorney General appeals Sheriff ruling
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has appealed a ruling that dismissed charges against San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge and Deputy Alan Freestone.
Seventh District Judge George Harmond dismissed the charges on November 15 after an August 25 preliminary hearing.
Harmond ruled, “The State has not met its burden at preliminary hearing and further, based on applicable law, the court declines to bind over [the men] for trial. The case is dismissed.”
The appeal process will investigate Judge Harmond’s ruling. If the appeal is supported, Judge Harmond would then likely oversee a jury trial of the accused officers.
Generally, a preliminary hearing requires a low burden of proof to move the case to the next stage. As a result, dismissing charges this early in the process occurs rarely.
The three top law enforcement officers in the county, including Eldredge, Freestone, and Deputy Rob Wilcox, were charged with a host of serious charges by the Attorney General, including retaliation against a witness, reckless endangerment, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.
Wilcox is not listed in the appeals filing.
A spokesman for the Attorney General would not discuss the appeal, adding that the filing “speaks for itself.”
The charges which were dismissed have to do with the actions of Eldredge, Wilcox and Freestone regarding former Deputy Sheriff Todd Bristol, who resigned his office in April, 2017.
A motion to dismiss the charges was made at the August 25 preliminary hearing. After prosecutors responded to the motion to dismiss, Judge Harmond took a full two months to make the determination and dismiss all charges against all three men.