ST. GEORGE – An aggravated arson case against a Hurricane woman was dismissed in Fifth District Court Monday morning due to lack of evidence.
The case against Stacy Barnard, 43, of Hurricane, stems from a Jan. 1 fire that consumed a trailer-home and left one man, 31-year-old David Nielson, also of Hurricane, dead. Evidence gathered at the time suggested to police Barnard had started the fire, and she was arrested for alleged aggravated arson. However, the evidence ultimately did not support the charges.
“With cases like arson, they have ongoing evidence issues,” Washington County Deputy Attorney Ryan Shaum said. “In this particular case, we had sent quite a bit of evidence to the state crime lab and we lacked the results we needed for our case. The bottom line is we felt there was a lack of evidence to proceed.”
Barnard was not present at what had been scheduled to be a preliminary hearing for her case. Shaum said she was released from jail approximately 30 days ago after issues with evidence began to surface. “We wanted to get her out as soon as possible,” he said.
According to court documents, Barnard told police she and Nielson had been drinking and that the fire was accidentally started while burning candles. Nielson had been described as Barnard’s live-in boyfriend of three years. He was arrested in November 2013 on forcible sex abuse charges, though posted bail in December 2013 and was released. Barnard was reported as the victim in that case.
Shaum said the Hurricane City Police Department is currently “tying up some small loose ends” related to the case, but he said he doesn’t believe it will significantly impact the direction the case has taken.
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