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Poaching case to go forward

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DUCHESNE — An 8th District judge denied a request to dismiss the felony poaching case against former 4th District Judge Ray Harding, Jr.

Defense attorney Edward Brass asked the court to dismiss the three third-degree felony charges against his client on the grounds that one of the prosecution's main witnesses failed to appear to testify at Harding's preliminary hearing Monday afternoon.

Duchesne County Attorney Cleve Hatch said he was advised just one hour before the hearing was scheduled to begin that Central Region Division of Wildlife Resource Conservation officer Jack Topham had been delayed by the weather while returning from a hunting trip in Newfoundland, Canada.

Topham was one of four witnesses scheduled to testify for the prosecution at the preliminary hearing. It was Topham who contacted Hatch's office in March to request that charges be filed in the case.

Judge Lynn Payne rescheduled the hearing for Nov. 12, at 9 a.m.

Harding is charged with wanton destruction of protected wildlife. A third-degree felony carry a possible penalty of zero to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The charges stem from a hunting trip in the High Uintas on October 2001 when Harding allegedly shot a trophy moose and two cow elk in Duchesne County.

Harding resigned as a 4th District judge in March and is currently on probation out of 3rd District Court on misdemeanor drug charges after completing 78 days of a 120-day jail term.

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