Briefs | Ruling: Victims must talk with prosecution
PHOENIX – An appellate court decision says Arizona's state constitutional protections for crime victims don't prevent prosecutors from conducting pretrial interviews of victims who object.
The Court of Appeals' ruling Tuesday said the Constitution's Victim's Bill of Rights allows victims to refuse pretrial interviews with defendants or defense lawyers, but the court said that right of refusal does not extend to interviews or depositions with the prosecution.
The court issued its ruling in a Yavapai County case involving a woman who is awaiting trial on a charge of luring a minor for sexual exploitation after allegedly sending a “suggestive photo" to a boy who was 14 years old at the time.
The boy initially told prosecutors that he and the woman exchanged sexually explicit texts and photos, but he later declined to meet with prosecutors to prepare for his trial testimony. According to the ruling, the boy also said through his attorney that he would characterize certain evidence in a way more favorable to the woman than previously reported.
Yuma woman faces new election law charge
YUMA – A Yuma County woman who was indicted last year for illegally returning four voted mail-in ballots that were not hers is facing three new felony charges.
The Arizona attorney general’s office announced Tuesday that Guillermina Fuentes was indicted for voting another person’s early ballot in the August 2020 primary election. She was charged with conspiracy, forgery and a ballot abuse count.
Fuentes, 65, a Democrat, is a former mayor of the border city of San Luis. She serves as an elected board member of the Gadsden Elementary School District in San Luis. Calls seeking comment from her attorney were not immediately returned.
The new indictment alleges that Fuentes obtained and voted another person’s early ballot and forged their signature. She and another San Luis woman were indicted in December on one count each of ballot abuse for returning four voted early ballots that did not belong to her or a family member in the 2020 primary election. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The Legislature passed the ban on so-called ballot harvesting in 2016. It bars anyone but a caregiver or family member from returning a mail ballot and carries a presumptive sentence of a year in prison.
High-altitude balloon crashes east of Tucson
TUCSON – A high-altitude balloon test vehicle flown by a Tucson-based company crashed in the Rincon Mountains east of the city Wednesday, but no injuries were reported.
World View Enterprises officials told the Arizona Daily Star that the unmanned flight took off from the company’s headquarters and launch pad south of Tucson International Airport and crashed about 10:30 a.m.
World View has flown unmanned stratospheric balloon missions from its Tucson site and other sites for research and commercial customers since 2014, logging more than 100 missions. The company announced plans Monday to begin offering $50,000 tourist flights aboard special manned capsules by 2024.