Gonzalez hearing and one more change of plea in Holbrook Friday

The hearing in Holbrook on Friday Sept. 1 was multi-purpose. Judge Fred Newton came from Flagstaff and heard first the change of plea from Logan Payne. Payne pled guilty to one charge of aggravated assault. Sentencing for Payne and the other defendants in the Winslow cases was set for Sept. 22, but the date is subject to change.

Coach Danny Gonzales' attorney presented an eloquent plea that Gonzales' case either be remanded back to the Grand Jury or dismissed. While the Deputy County Attorney rebutted those claims of prejudicial statements and items missing from the original presentation, the judge decided to read the testimony for himself.

Newton said that he expected to hold a case management conference by telephone, but that Gonzalez should be ready to accept a plea agreement or go to trial by mid-October if the judge does not decide to remand or dismiss.

Judge Newton made the point that these proceedings are very hard on the community of Winslow. While he recognizes that there are some reasons for delaying, he feels there are more pressing reasons for getting these cases concluded.

The court did not hear the motion for change of release conditions for the defendants which had been filed by the County Attorney. The school district and the County Attorney's office are concerned about keeping victims and witnesses separated from defendants at WHS. The Deputy County Attorney did not know when this motion might be heard.

The WUSD Governing Board, meanwhile, heard a petition on Aug. 29 to readmit Jason Black to the high school. The board was presided over by Acting President Dodie Montoya in the absence of Terry DuBoise. Joe Hancock recused himself on grounds of conflict of interest.

The board said that the matter of change of status for Jason Black was in the hands of the administration, to readmit or to move for expulsion, according to the minutes of the Governing Board meeting of April 17, 2000. The hearing was held publicly by request of the Blacks.

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