Judge: No more delays in trials for fatal fugitive chase
Four court dates ordered for this year
KINGMAN - Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn did not cite the legal maxim that says justice delayed is justice denied, but that was the message he sent Monday by refusing to grant yet another postponement in the multiple cases against a man charged with killing a woman while fleeing from law enforcement April 22.
Conn warned Art Higgs, the attorney for Robert James Dodd, 42, that he would not grant another delay when Dodd was last in court in February. He kept his word this week, despite the fact Higgs had a reasonably good reason to seek more time.
The accident reconstruction investigation the Arizona Department of Public Safety performed was not completed until last week, more than 11 months after Dodd allegedly crashed into Linda Chevalier, 66, a prominent Kingman resident who died from her injuries.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Bond Street and Packard Avenue, just minutes after Dodd allegedly fled from law enforcement officers who had spent weeks trying to arrest him.
Dodd has four cases against him and Conn set his trials in chronological order. If they go off as scheduled, Dodd will face four separate juries in May, June, July and August.
The last one is by far the most serious case against Dodd as he faces a second-degree murder charge related to Chevalier's death.
Higgs said he needed to study the DPS accident reconstruction report and possibly hire an expert to review the findings. Conn said he understood the importance of the report to the defense, but he said his concerns are twofold: He believes any plea negotiations could have been resolved after 11 months without the DPS findings.
"I doubt the report would cause an epiphany ... and the victims have a right to expect the case won't be pending forever."
Prosecutor Doug Camacho agreed, saying he knows the alleged victims, especially members of Chevalier's family, want to get the murder case resolved.
"We do recognize the victims' rights," said Camacho. Chevalier's husband, David, and one of her three daughters, Karen Player, have attended every hearing held thus far, and several supporters have also attended court.
Conn also said Higgs might want more time to investigate and that nearly a year, apparently, hasn't been sufficient, but he also said he found it "mind boggling" that Higgs has not interviewed a single witness in all that time.
Mostly, though, Conn wanted to maintain his credibility. He said a judge who says he is not going to grant any more postponements at one hearing and then does so anyway at the next hearing loses his credibility and fails to manage his caseload.
With that said, and with no further objection from Higgs, Conn set trial dates for May 12, June 2, July 21 and Aug. 11.
The May trial involves charges of kidnapping, carrying a weapon in the commission of a crime, unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement vehicle and disorderly conduct with a weapon.
Dodd allegedly pointed a shotgun at a man who was driving a van law enforcement attempted to pull over. The driver jumped out of the vehicle and Dodd got behind the wheel and got away.
The June trial involves a charge of theft of means of transportation and the July trial includes charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement vehicle and three counts of criminal damage.
In this case, Dodd allegedly struck a Kingman Police vehicle as he again successfully fled from officers.
The case involving Chevalier includes second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated DUI-drugs, possession of dangerous drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and three counts of criminal damage.
If convicted on all charges, Dodd could spend decades in prison.
Following the hearing, David Chevalier became emotional when asked about the toll the delays have put on him and his family. Closure for them has been put on hold as the case stalled over 11 months, two judges and numerous delays.