A 3rd District judge on Monday refused to close a May 15 preliminary hearing for a prominent real estate developer charged with 46 felonies.
C. Dean Larsen is charged with 46 felony counts of theft, securities fraud, unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary and sale of unregistered securities. The charges result from the way Larsen dealt with investors in Granada, his real estate development company.Larsen's attorney, Larry Keller, argued in 3rd Circuit Court Monday that Larsen's preliminary hearing should be closed because if it were open it would invade his privacy and damage his chances of fair trial by an impartial jury.
Larsen is embarrassed by the charges against him and the preliminary hearing he must endure, Keller said. He does not want the further embarrassment of having the hearing open to the public, Keller said.
Judge Robin W. Reese denied the motion.
Keller also said the hearing should be closed because he planned to argue during the hearing for excluding testimonies from 31 prosecution witnesses during the trial. If the press attends the preliminary hearing, it will publish accounts of those testimonies, Keller said. If the judge rules to exclude those testimonies from the trial, potential jurors would still have learned about them from the media and be prejudiced against Larsen before the trial, Keller said.
But Reese rejected that argument as well. Larsen is no different than any other defendant whose privacy is invaded by a preliminary hearing, Reese said. Larsen's embarrassment does not outweigh the public's right to an open hearing.
Reese also ruled that an open preliminary hearing would not damage Larsen's chances for a fair trial. Reese said the testimonies Keller was concerned about were not sensational enough nor the witnesses well known enough to be remembered by the public.
Reese also denied a motion by the Utah attorney general's office to bring a new charge against Larsen. The office has dropped four of the original 50 counts against Larsen. Reese said the state had waited too long to file the new charge against Larsen.