Hazing cases heard in Flagstaff<br>Coach Gonzalez pleads "no contest" to one misdemeanor<br>
Tuesday, Nov. 14 two of the Winslow hazing cases had settlement hearings with Judge H. Jeffrey Coker in the Superior Court of Coconino County. In the first case, Coach Danny Gonzalez submitted an "Alford" plea of no contest while maintaining his innocence. He was charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor arising from events of last Jan. 26.
The Navajo County prosecutor stated that the county accepted the plea because, among other things, they had never received information from even one person that the coach had ever been told about the hazing. Gonzalez will be on probation with sentencing on Dec. 13 in the Navajo County Superior Court in Holbrook.
Judge Coker pointed out that in making the choice to accept a plea agreement Gonzalez was giving up his right to appeal except for mistakes made by the court. In this case it was specified that there will be no initial or deferred jail time, except as a possibility if the terms of probation were violated.
The Grand Jury transcript was used as the factual basis for the charge and victim's families were consulted and agreed in adopting the reduced charge.
In making his plea, Gonzalez maintained his innocence. Deputy County Attorney Joel Reuchel, speaking for the state, said that there were conflicting statements of facts surrounding the case and the office of the county attorney will not try to influence the state Board of Education about Gonzalez' license to teach. Reuchel added that the state "never heard a witness say the coach was told anything about this."
Gonzalez admitted making mistakes, but he maintained that he did not know any student was being assaulted.
In the second case defendant Shane Garnett and his family refused the current plea offer by Navajo County. If no plea agreement can be made, then the case will go to trial. Currently the family is asking that the Navajo County Deputy Prosecutor be recused due to an emotional involvement in the case. This motion was denied on the 14th.
A member of the family said that another session for negotiation would be scheduled.