Trial for Sheriff, Deputies will stay in San Juan County
San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge and two deputies will face charges in San Juan County and not in Salt Lake City after a July 25 ruling by Seventh District Judge George Harmond.
The initial appearance before Judge Harmond included a motion to move the venue to the Third District Court, in Salt Lake City. Attorneys for the State of Utah argued that the three local men who were charged with the criminal charges would not find a fair and impartial jury in San Juan County.
After hearing arguments, Judge Harmond ruled that the trial would take place in the Seventh District Court in Monticello.
Criminal charges were filed on May 10, 2017 against San Juan County Sheriff Eldredge, Chief Deputy Alan Freestone, and Deputy Robert Wilcox.
Sheriff Eldredge and his two deputies face a range of charges, including felony retaliation against a witness, reckless endangerment, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct.
The charges were filed by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.
In addition, prosecutors have filed a motion to move the trial of the three local men out of San Juan County.
The next stage in the process is an August 25 preliminary hearing.
After the charges were filed, San Juan County Commissioners announced that the three officers will remain on active duty until the case is resolved. Commissioners stated that law enforcement efforts in the county would be compromised by the loss of three of the eleven road deputies in the sprawling county.
The three men have been involved in law enforcement in San Juan County for years. Eldredge, age 48, was first elected Sheriff in 2010, after spending 19 years in the Utah Highway Patrol. Freestone, age 57, and Wilcox, age 46, have been Sheriff’s deputies for many years.