ST. GEORGE – A man’s attempt to avoid identification by police failed Wednesday when he gave his brother’s driver’s license to an officer on a traffic stop, a license that records check showed as denied, giving rise to further investigation and the man’s arrest on multiple outstanding warrants as well as new charges.
While working traffic control, Santa Clara-Ivins Police Officer Matt Stoker observed a man driving a pickup truck traveling 10-15 miles below the speed limit, brake almost to a stop at an intersection where there was no stop sign, and put on his turn signal to turn right but then continue traveling another direction, Stoker said in his probable cause statements supporting the arrests.
From those indicators, Stoker initiated a traffic stop near 400 E. Pioneer in Ivins for a possible DUI.
“I made contact with the driver and he advised he was lost,” Stoker said in the statement.
When Stoker asked the man, who was later identified as Jason Dale Watnes, 37, of Payson, for his driver’s license, Watnes told Stoker he didn’t have it with him and gave his brother’s information as his own, the statement said.
After running the false information given by Watnes, the name came back as having a denied Utah driver’s license, Stoker said in the statement, and Watnes was placed under arrest for the denied Utah driver’s license.
A Washington County Sheriff’s Office narcotics K-9 was called in. The K-9 was deployed on the truck and alerted to an illegal controlled substance being present, Stoker said.
During a search of the truck, Stoker located a backpack in the backseat of the truck with a wallet containing Watnes’ Social Security card and credit card and discovered he had lied about his name, according to the probable cause statement. Furthermore, Stoker located a small plastic bag with suspected methamphetamine residue in the backpack, as well a 9mm handgun.
After running Watnes’ real information, it was discovered that he also had a denied driver’s license, along with six outstanding warrants for his arrest, Stoker said. He also was a Category I restricted felon making it illegal for him to have a weapon in his possession.
Watnes was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on Wednesday.
He was charged with one second-degree felony for being in possession of a firearm as a Category I restricted felon; three third-degree felonies for drug possession and warrants; four class A misdemeanors for warrants; a class B misdemeanor for drug paraphernalia; and two class C misdemeanors for providing false information to a police officer and driving on a denied driver’s license.
While incarcerated, St. George Police paid Watnes a visit regarding a residential burglary in St. George that was reported on July 18, St. George Police Officer Joshua Wilson said in his probable cause statements supporting the additional charges.
Several items were taken out of the residence over a period of time, Wilson said in the statement, and several of those stolen items ended up in multiple pawn shops in St. George after being pawned by Watnes.
Wilson met with Watnes at the jail on Friday. Wilson said:
I Mirandized him and he spoke with me about the situation. He informed me that he did pawn the items listed at the different pawn shops. He claimed to have gotten the stolen items from a girlfriend. He stated that he pawned the items because he was trying to help this girl out. He stated that he had no knowledge of the burglary, but did state that he only went into the outside carport of the house in question. Jason believed that the girl he was helping was involved in the burglary, and was adamant that he didn’t go inside.
Watnes was additionally charged with a class A misdemeanor for receiving stolen property; and three class B misdemeanors for theft by deception.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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