Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Woman gets probation for harassment

Sara Hutchinson eluded sentencing for almost a year

Express Staff Writer

Sara E. Hutchinson

A former Hailey woman who had eluded sentencing for almost a year has been placed on three years probation for a felony conviction of telephone harassment.

Sara Elizabeth Hutchinson, 31, failed to show at sentencing hearings on Jan 26 and Feb. 2. She was brought into court Monday wearing orange-and-white jail attire and with hands and ankles cuffed and chained. Fifth District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee had issued an arrest warrant after Hutchinson's second failure to appear.

She was arrested on the warrant in Salt Lake City in October and returned to Blaine County in November.

"You're lucky you're not charged with bail jumping," Elgee told Hutchinson, who was tearful at times as she sat next to public defender Douglas Werth.

Hutchinson was charged with felony telephone harassment in May 2008 for making threatening telephone calls to a Hailey man who is the father of her daughter and has legal custody of the child. She was charged with a felony because it was her second telephone harassment offense.

She pleaded guilty to the charge in November 2008.

At Monday's sentencing hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback described Hutchinson as a woman "who has no respect for authority." He said she was charged with the crime because she repeatedly threatened her daughter's father.

"Ms. Hutchinson would just call over and over again and leave messages and use profanity and threaten his life," Fredback said. "She has a temper that is very severe. She threatens people and attacks people and that makes her dangerous and a little scary."

In defense of his client, Werth said that Hutchinson was going through "emotional turmoil" because of losing custody of her daughter. He said his client now lives in Salt Lake City where she had been employed as a nurse.

"She's a caregiver and has been gainfully employed," Werth said. "She has been getting her life together."

Werth asked that Hutchinson be given a withheld judgment, a provision that would allow the conviction to later be removed from her record. Elgee declined, but said he would consider later reducing the conviction to a misdemeanor if Hutchinson successfully completes probation.

The judge noted that Hutchinson had spent 52 days in jail since her arrest in Salt Lake City, but said he was tempted to impose further incarceration.

"You're very close to that, I'll tell you that," Elgee said.

He said he had decided instead to give her the "benefit of the doubt," but warned that a jail sentence would be imposed if Hutchinson violated probation. He further ordered that Hutchinson undergo "anger management" evaluation and counseling.

Following the hearing, Hutchinson was released from the Blaine County jail.

Terry Smith:

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