Weddell attorney asks for dismissal of criminal charges — again
October 15, 2002
The Carson City District Attorney’s Office failed to give building contractor Ron Weddell a speedy trial, his attorney said in court during a Monday hearing.
Weddell, 55, is charged in an October 1997 incident in which he attempted to shoot a man he claimed ran down an employee in his construction yard and kidnapped his daughter.
District Judge Michael Fondi, now retired, dismissed the charge in March 2001.
An appeal by the District Attorney’s Office to the Supreme Court reinstated the charge in April.
The Supreme Court said Weddell went beyond the law when he attempted to use deadly force in making a citizen’s arrest of Jaime Bustamante.
On Friday in District Court, defense attorney Fred Atcheson filed a motion to dismiss the charges of assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm. Atcheson argued Weddell already was arraigned on the charge in 1997 and, although the appeals to the Supreme Court delayed the trial, the “clock began ticking” from the time he was first arraigned.
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“The DA has 60 days within which to bring a person to trial after the arraignment. The arraignment was five years ago,” Atcheson said. “The clock ran for a month, but then it was like a time-out. The clock doesn’t go back to zero.”
Atcheson said the attempt to re-arraign Weddell is faulty.
“What it basically means is they are three weeks late under even the most favorable construction. They’re probably three months late, and as far as I’m concerned they’re more than a bubble short on the case,” he said.
Judge Michael Griffin agreed to wait on the arraignment until the prosecution had a chance to respond to Atcheson’s motion.
The1997 incident began when Bustamante reportedly tried to run over one of Weddell’s employees. Bustamante was looking for Weddell’s daughter in an alleged drug transaction. Weddell found Bustamante the next day and called sheriff’s deputies.
When they didn’t show up in 15 minutes, he tried to arrest Bustamante. Bustamante fled and Weddell shot at him four times, but missed.
Weddell was arrested and charged with assault and discharging a firearm at a person.
Fondi, in dismissing the charges, agreed with Weddell was permitted to shoot Bustamante in the process of arresting him under Nevada’s old “fleeing felon” law.
The Supreme Court pointed out that Nevada lawmakers specifically repealed the “fleeing felon” statute in 1993 and limited the use of deadly force by police officers.
Weddell, who saw the prosecution as a vendetta against him by the District Attorney’s Office, circulated a petition calling for a special grand jury to look into his charges of collusion between the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office.
After three months of testimony, the grand jury returned indictments against Bustamante, his brother, Johnny on kidnapping and drug-related charges, and Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer for allegedly intimidating a witness. The charges were dismissed.
Special prosecutor Terri Roeser appealed the dismissal to the Supreme Court and in July the charges against Johnny Bustamante were reinstated.
A ruling on Langer’s and Jaime Bustamante’s appeals are pending.