Judge: Paul McMurdie
Prosecutor: Susie Charbel
Defense: Cari McConeghy-Harris
John Stuart present
John Stuart's bail hearing was well attended by John's supporters.
Mrs. Beasley, whose husband was killed, was there with a friend for the
There was a delay while one to a few letters were introduced by the
prosecutor -- presumably asking the judge not to let Stuart out on bail
or to reduce bail. Whether these were from Beasley family members or
friends, or witnesses was not stated.
Ms. McConnell-Harris started off with a presentation that in our legal
system, pretrial imprisonment is a mechanism of last choice BECAUSE it
is punitive, and it is unconstitutional to inflict or continue to
inflict punishment on someone whom has not been
convicted of a crime. That such punishment only comes about after
She discussed Article 2 (our Rights) of the Arizona Constitution
's stance on the reasons and desirability for bail in Section 22
, and Section 15
She went on to note that Mr. Stuart has spent several hundred thousand
dollars in his defense and is now indigent. That he has family members
present in the courtroom that live in our community. That several
members of our community have come forward to support Stuart and to
offer him a place to stay if he were to be released, including an
officer of the court present in the courtroom. That Stuart has
faithfully carried out the orders of the court, and returned to the
courtroom for every hearing and complied with every condition when he
was previously out on bail [except for getting arrested on the false
paperwork filing charge]. That he posed no threat to the community or
witnesses -- indeed, the subsequent witness interviews supported his
self defense justification. It was also pointed out that Mr. Stuart
had a real estate license that was due for renewal in October, and that
he had to prepare for and take a examination if he was not going to
lose his certification which amounted to further punitive action if he
remained behind bars.
The prosecutor opened by stating that no conditions had changed under
law that warranted a change in Stuarts bail as required under the
procedures of the law and the court. That there was nothing being
introduced that was new that could be used to reduce his bond. That
when Mr. Stuart had a hearing before Judge Ryan bail had been increased
from $46,000 to $230,000. Somewhere along the way an error was made by
the state, and the bailable amount was entered as $184,000. She also
mentioned his re-arrest for a felony ... which the judge interrupted
her with a mild rebuke and said the conviction was for a misdemeanor.
She also mentioned the one witness who claimed Mr. Beasley was backing
away from the vehicle when shot was afraid for herself and her children
[which makes me wonder if this was one of the letters the prosecutor
introduced]. Prosecution rests.
The defense then rebutted that the "change" that had occurred was Mr.
Stuart's newfound indigence as a direct result of being behind bars for
six months in which he was prevented from earning a living. That Mr..
Stuart plead guilty to a misdemeanor because there was not probable
cause a felony had been committed. Ms. McConeghy-Harris also
addressed the one witness who claimed Mr. Beasley was backing away from
the vehicle... that this was one witness out of over a dozen... and the
only one to make this statement. That her testimony was impeached by
subsequent interviews. And that the "fear" the witness had mentioned
was acute; it was fear at the time
of the shooting that if the bullet had missed Mr. Beasley it might have
sailed into her car where her children were present, and did not
represent a fear that Mr. Stuart would seek to harm her or her family
now. Defense rests.
The judge immediately
ruled that the defense had failed to show a change sufficient to
warrant altering the conditions for Mr. Stuart's bail existed. This
means (as best I understand) that Stuart is bailable, but at either
$230,000 or $184,000 (I am not sure). Either way, it means Stuart
remains in jail for the next eight weeks, and for the additional two
weeks his trial is planned.
The judge brought up several charges
Mr. Stuart is facing (yes, the judge said plural) -- I only know of one
charge. The false paperwork -- which the judge also mentioned as a
reason not to lower bail has been resolved. The "drive by shooting"
was filed to RICO his vehicle and melt his guns. So it is not
pertinent to the upcoming trial. So I do not know what charges the
judge refers to, but second degree murder is the only charge I am aware
of that is pending.
The defense had mentioned the difficulty of Mr. Stuart to get legal
pads, and pencils or pens to write with to assist in his defense. The
judge replied without a representative from the Sheriff's department he
would not order the Sheriff to provide such materials, and that Ms.
McConeghy-Harris needed to contact the Sheriff's representative before
the judge could schedule a hearing. [Keep in mind this is to assist in
his defense! You will know what to expect when it is your turn to face
Needless to say John's daughters and his girlfriend Cindy were in tears
over the ruling. I hope John by now had steeled himself to the worst
outcome, because this was the worst outcome. The state won everything
it asked for and the defense lost everything it asked for. One fellow
remarked that Stuart's having plead guilty to a misdemeanor didn't work
out so well after all. But the truth is, all the judge did was refuse
to act. The judge refused to see a sufficient change had occurred
justifying any alteration in Stuart's current status. This is the
easiest position for the judge to take. It costs him nothing
politically, the media cannot castigate him, the system does not get
challenged so no one within the system that he knows will fault him for
a decision. Mr. Stuart's seemingly on paper, has had his Rights
Had Mr. Stuart not plead guilty to the misdemeanor, one of two
scenarios would have occurred: The prosecutor would have informed the
judge that sufficient evidence was not available to allow the state to
go forward on the charge, and the judge would have dismissed the charge
hopefully with prejudice. Or, Mr. Stuart would be undergoing a trial
right now to see if the state could get a felony conviction.
If the charge was dropped or he was found not guilty, the judge would have still
the bail in place as he has done. Or he could have been convicted of a
felony false paperwork filing and have no bail continued. It seems to
me that getting the charge out of the way best served his cause, even
if the judge brought it up... I still think the judge would simply
refuse to lower bail because it costs the judge nothing to do nothing.
But if he lowers the bail, or releases Stuart on his own recognizance,
well how often have we read a judge being castigated in the press for
doing just this (honoring your Rights)...why we have even seen this
from the Arizona Republic
columnists and talk show hosts in THIS very case. So it is no wonder the judge is gun shy.
And in breaking news the Sheriff Arpaio's jails have just lost their health care
accreditation for the jail's clinics "for failure to maintain
compliance with national standards and providing false information
about such compliance." No surprise in Amerika's toughest hell hole, it is just another unaccountable day in paradise.
Update: Edited message from Cindy:
I wanted to thank you both again for coming today for John. It means
so much to both of us. I have been on the phone all day trying to figure a
way to get him out. I have a bond company that will give me a
$184,000 bond for $100,000 in collateral. I have to pay him 10% or $18,400
for this. I don't have the collateral anymore. I was wondering if
anyone knows someone who would have collateral for that much in a home (
$100,000 ) or a few friends with homes. I have a friend that is
checking on his house in Colorado tomorrow. I can raise some of this
myself, but am going to be short. Please let me know if you have
anyone that can help.