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Judge: Man charged in Millard County deputy death case can have separate hearing

FILLMORE — Fourth District Judge Donald Eyre has ruled that Ruben Chavez-Reyes can have a separate preliminary hearing from that of his co-defendant, Roberto Miramontes Roman.

Police contend both men are connected with the Jan. 5 fatal shooting of Millard County sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox.

A joint preliminary hearing had been set for Aug. 9-11 for both men, but Chavez-Reyes objected. He particularly wanted to exercise his right to a speedy trial.

Prosecutors had argued that it would be more cost-effective and efficient to hold the same preliminary hearing for both men, since there is overlapping evidence and witnesses. Prosecutors also contend that the cases should be heard together because they involve "conduct arising from a single criminal episode."

In addition, prosecutors argued that Chavez-Reyes would not be harmed by this "brief delay" since he already is in jail because he is in the United States illegally and immigration authorities have a hold on him.

However, the judge disagreed and issued a written ruling on Tuesday.

"Since the defendant has now requested a timely preliminary hearing, the court does find that he (Chavez-Reyes) would be prejudiced by a delay to a time when a joint preliminary hearing could be held, because of the potential delay in resolving his immigration issues and the ultimate adjudication of his own charges," Eyre wrote.

The judge scheduled Chavez-Reyes' preliminary hearing for June 2, which was the date tentatively chosen by the court at an April 28 hearing.

"This was the earliest date when the court and counsel's calendars permitted a setting, and the court finds there is good cause shown for a delay to said date," Eyre wrote.

Chavez-Reyes, 36, is charged with obstruction of justice, burglary, evidence tampering and a weapons violation.

Police have not said what role they suspect Chavez-Reyes played in Fox's killing, but Roman was allegedly behind the wheel of a Cadillac registered to Chavez-Reyes when Fox approached the car in a late-night traffic stop. In addition, police say a Corvette that Chavez-Reyes owned was found in Salt Lake City with one of the Cadillac's license plates on it.

Roman, 37, is charged with capital murder, which could carry the death penalty if he is convicted. Police suspect he is the person who actually shot Fox to death. He also is charged with evidence tampering and a weapons violation.

In another matter, Eyre quashed a subpoena for Deseret News reporter Pat Reavy, who got copies of a search warrant and supporting affidavit related to the case from the Salt Lake Police Department, under the Government Records Access and Management Act. Information from these documents was published in a Deseret News story on Jan. 20.

The state sought to have the warrant put under seal and unavailable to the public or media two days after the story was published.

Eyre, however, declined to have the state pay the attorney fees for lawyers representing the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune and the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

e-mail: lindat@desnews.com