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9:41 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Sentencing in sex assault case on hold

Defense in Monahan trial claims misconduct by prosecution

Robert Patrick Monahan

Robert Patrick Monahan

KINGMAN - Lawyers were in court Tuesday morning arguing over whether there was prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of a man convicted in May of raping his step-daughter 10 years ago.

Robert Patrick Monahan, 37, faces more than 100 years in prison after he was found guilty by a jury of three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor.

Sentencing has been put on hold after Monahan's lawyer, Robin Puchek, filed a motion for a new trial based on what he believes to be prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Mohave County Attorney Megan McCoy.

Puchek lodged an objection at the beginning of the trial over McCoy's use of the word "predator" when referring to Monahan, which she used during opening and closing statements.

Judge Rick Williams at the time denied Puchek's objections.

"Using inflammatory language to describe the defendant can constitute an improper attempt to arouse the passion and prejudice of the jury," Puchek wrote in his motion for a new trial. Witnesses also testified in court Tuesday that McCoy acted improperly during the trial, including giving witnesses non-verbal clues as they testified and laughing when Puchek was questioning a witness.

Monahan's girlfriend, who observed some of the proceedings from the court gallery, testified that she saw McCoy shake her head 'yes' and 'no' during the testimony of Kingman Police Det. Bill Fancher. She said that Fancher's answers corresponded with the shaking of McCoy's head.

Two others from the Mohave County Public Defender's Office testified to also seeing McCoy's head nods, as well as making "scoffing" sounds during arguments made by Puchek, which he said made it appear as if his arguments were meritless.

Puchek also asked Williams to recuse himself from the hearing, saying that the judge condoned the prosecutorial misconduct. Williams rejected that motion before the start of Tuesday's hearing.

McCoy was present during Tuesday's proceedings but did not participate. Questioning was instead handled by Prosecutor Robert Moon.

Several witnesses for the defense testified Tuesday morning before proceedings were suspended due to the court's schedule. The hearing will be continued, at which point Moon intends to introduce two witnesses on the prosecution's behalf.

Monahan's former stepdaughter, now 20, testified that Monahan engaged in sexual activity with her when she was 11 years old over a year-long period in 2001.