The Arizona Supreme Court granted a request Thursday by the state Attorney General's Office to stay a recent state Court of Appeals ruling in the case of a Mohave County man, along with other defendants, found to be sexually violent predators.
The Court of Appeals ruled Sept.
11 that Arizona's sexual violent person's law is constitutional but imposed a new requirement on jury instructions possibly forcing new trials for more than 120 defendant's labeled as sexual predators.
The appellate court requires prosecutors to instruct juries in a civil to define "likely" to mean "highly probable" that a sexual violent person would engage in acts of sexual violence.
The Court of Appeals ruling came on an appeal by Wilbur Clarence Wilson's attorney, Eric Engan.
The appellate court vacated Wilson's commitment to the Arizona State Hospital and ordered a new civil trial to determine whether Wilson, formerly of Bullhead City, is a sexual violent predator.
The appellate court refused the state's request earlier Thursday to stay their decision based on Wilson's appeal.
Depending on the Supreme Court's opinion, Wilson's case may be brought back to Mohave County for another civil trial, Chief Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jace Zack said.
Wilson, 76, of Bullhead City, is currently at the state hospital in Phoenix.
Last year, a jury ruled that Wilson was a sexually violent person and sentenced him to remain in the Arizona State Hospital indefinitely.
Wilson was committed to the state hospital in 1997 for aggravated assault on a child at a Bullhead City shopping center.
He received probation but violated his probation and was sentenced to a year and a half in prison before he was committed to the state hospital.
When a sex offender is released from prison, a county attorney's office petitions for a hearing and a civil jury trial is held in that county's superior court.
The jury determines whether the sex offender should be committed at the state hospital indefinitely and placed in a treatment program.
The state Court of Appeals ruled last year as unconstitutional that sex offenders be sentenced to the state hospital in Phoenix after completing their prison sentences.
The appeals court ruled that a defendant had already served his or her term in prison and should not be institutionalized again.
The Arizona Supreme Court overturned the lower court's ruling.
Mohave County's other resident of the state hospital, Norman Alan Mongeon of Kingman, was never convicted, but a superior court judge ruled that he was mentally incompetent and committed him to the state hospital in November 1997.
Mongeon was arrested in June 1997 at a Kingman residence for indecent exposure to a child, molestation of a child and public sexual indecency, records show.