Stephen Garnett Jr.’s lawyer has filed a petition with the Navajo County Superior Court requesting his client’s felony hazing charges be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Bruce Griffen, of Flagstaff law firm Aspey, Watkins and Diesel, filed the petition on Thursday and hopes that if a hearing occurs it will happen before July 6th. The reason for the hurry is that if Garnett’s charge gets reduced before that day, he is eligible to receive scholarships from universities.
Griffen said the clarification of the scholarship offer Garnett claims to have received from Northern Arizona University will be used as evidence when the hearing takes place.
Steve Holton, athletic director for Northern Arizona University, said that no scholarship offer had been made.
“We have not made any indication that this would be discussed until the legal matters are taken care of,” Holton said.
Because of victim laws, Griffen feels sure a hearing will occur to let the victims of the hazing express their opinions about the reduction of charges.
Garnett was sentenced to nine months jail time and three years probation for the class-six felony conviction in the Winslow “hazing” incident in October 2000. He served three months behind bars due to a “2 to 1” deal that reduced his sentence two days for every one day he worked while serving his time.
Garnett was released from jail Jan. 12 to attend Northland Pioneer College, but was required to return behind bars for a week during the school’s spring break. After serving that week, he was released again and no further time was required. He has been on probation since his release.
Griffen said that class-six felonies can also be treated as a misdemeanor in court, so asking for the reduction is not a shot in the dark. In order for a class-six felony to be reduced to a misdemeanor the person has to do well on their probation. By doing well, the probationer has to have no write up or criticisms, such as not showing up on time at the right place or missing a payment. The probationer has to complete community service requirements and must be employed to be considered for the reduction.
The court would not consider the reduction without a good performance in intensive probation. Griffen said they would not have filed for the reduction if Garnett had not been doing so well in his probation.
Griffen said that if Garnett’s charge was not reduced, he would have to wait a year before he can start college.