Arraignment Postponed for Wesley Lattin

  • 2020-03-06, 10:46 AM
  • Editor
Arraignment Postponed for Wesley Lattin
By Leanna Lehman —  On Tuesday, Wesley Austin Lattin appeared in District Court before Tenth Judicial District Court Judge, Tom Stockard. Lattin was arrested on February 20th after U.S. Marshalls notified Churchill County Sheriff’s Office of his potential whereabouts. With the assistance of SWAT from the City of Sparks, Sheriff Richard Hickox and his deputies located Lattin in an underground bunker off Tarzyn Road north of town and placed him in custody. Lattin absconded during trial proceedings in 2005 while facing allegations of sexual assault of a person under the age of 16 and three counts of gross lewdness. A felony Failure to Appear (FTA) charge has been added to the charges. Lattin appeared in District Court with James Sloan, Esq., the attorney who represented him in the original case. Sloan filed a motion to withdraw as Lattin's defense counsel, Charles Woodman Esq. was appointed Lattin's public defender. Before addressing the charges against Lattin, Judge Stockard disclosed a potential conflict of interest. While he does not believe there will be an issue, he felt it appropriate to put the matter to both the defendant and his counsel. Stockard informed those in the courtroom that he was the Chief Deputy District Attorney in Churchill County from 1999-2012, encompassing the time frame around the charges filed against Lattin, his arrest, the jury trial, and when he failed to appear for the trial. Stockard explained that he would have had some administrative responsibilities and the news was big enough at the time that he knew when they were preparing for the jury trial. “I read the file, but never appeared in court on this case,” stated Stockard, “and I have no recollection of the particulars on this case.” Stockard believes his prior knowledge in this matter will not impede his ability to remain fair and impartial. Stockard also informed the defendant that if he does feel that the judge’s prior contact with the case is a conflict, another judge would have to rule on the matter. “The court does not voluntarily recuse itself,” stated Stockard. Before Judge Stockard addressed the question of bail, he asked the prosecution about the Lattin’s custody status prior to his disappearance. “Do we know how he came to be out of custody?” According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills, the State could not yet answer that question and had been unable to locate documentation that Lattin had posted bail or that had been was released his own recognizance. Chelsea Sanford, Assistant District Attorney represented the State during the proceedings. Sanford requested a no-bail hold due to the nature of the charges and the fact that Lattin eluded law enforcement for 15 years. If the statute mandates bail, the State will then seek an amount of $1.2 million, payable by cash only. Woodman requested that the matter of bail be postponed, as he had just been appointed to the case. Additionally, as the court did not have clear information on governing statute at the time of the hearing, no bail determination could be made. Another question posed by Stockard related to the potential penalties. In most cases, “The statutes in place at the time control the sentencing,” stated Stockard. In essence, that is "the time when the alleged offense(s) took place." At the time of Lattin’s pending jury trial in 2005, the sexual assault charges held two potential penalties of life with the possibility of parole after 20 years, or a fixed 20 year sentence with parole possible after five years. The gross lewdness charges carried sentences of one year per count. However, sentencing laws have changed at least twice since Lattin's arrest. Stockard ordered both the State and Defense to return with clear penalties as outlined by statute. If convicted, Lattin could also receive penalties for failing to appear while facing felony charges. Judge Stockard granted a three-week extension until Tuesday, March 24th. Lattin did not object to more time in custody while his defense familiarizes himself with the extensive case files. “Whatever my lawyer thinks best,” stated Lattin. During his next appearance, Lattin is scheduled to be arraigned and bail will be determined. Additionally, the court will set a trial date. According to current Chief Deputy DA, Lane Mills, Lattin previously waived his right to a speedy trial. A jury trial that could take up to three weeks.       Support local, independent news – contribute to The Fallon Post, your non-profit (501c3) online news source for all things Fallon. Never miss the local news — read more on The Fallon Post home page.  

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