ST. GEORGE — A St. George man, who evidently did not want to go to jail Wednesday, is now facing a lengthier jail sentence after trying to flee a St. George courthouse – assaulting a probation officer in the process – as a court bailiff attempted to take him into custody.
Court proceedings were underway in Judge G. Michael Westfall’s courtroom at the 5th District Courthouse in St. George Wednesday when, at approximately 2:15 p.m., 28-year-old Michael Ray Smith Jr. appeared before the judge for a review hearing.
Smith had sentence hearings already scheduled in two pending cases involving felony theft and identity fraud, among other charges, when he found himself in court again facing a barrage of similar charges, according to court documents.
During the hearing, Smith’s defense attorney, Trevor Terry, requested that the court continue sentencing in Smith’s other cases and set all his cases for Jan. 18.
Accordingly, prosecuting attorney James Weeks requested to have Smith remanded. Judge Westfall agreed and ordered Smith be remanded to the custody of the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
However, when the bailiff attempted to take Smith into custody off the courtroom floor, Smith wasn’t having it and ran toward the doors in an attempt to flee, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in support of his arrest.
A private probation officer attempted to intervene and block Smith’s exit, according to the statement.
“Smith rammed into the agent, dragging him down the hallway in his attempted escape,” the arresting deputy wrote in a sworn statement. “The probation officer sustained small lacerations and abrasions to the right side of his face from the altercation.”
Smith then made an effort to flee the courthouse using the stairway in the fire exit as the bailiff pursued after him while giving him verbal commands to stop, the report stated.
“After observing the assault between the probation officer and Smith, along with his failure to comply with my commands,” the deputy wrote in the statement, “I deployed my TASER. The TASER was ineffective but distracted Smith, causing him to run into a wall.”
After hitting the wall, Smith was taken into custody and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for medical clearance before subsequently being booked into jail.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court accusing Smith of third-degree felony escape from official custody, class A misdemeanor failure to stop at the command of law enforcement and class B misdemeanor assault.
Following the ordeal, the court ordered Smith be held without bail.
According to Utah court documents, a July 27, 2016, incident led to Smith being found guilty on charges of third-degree felony possession of another’s identifying documents and second-degree burglary of a dwelling, which was amended to a third-degree felony as part of a plea agreement.
As the result of a crime committed Sept. 14, 2016, Smith was found guilty of two third-degree felony counts of identity fraud and possession of another’s identifying documents, along with a class A misdemeanor count of providing false information to police with the intent to be another actual person, according to court documents.
He was later arrested Nov. 28, 2016, on charges of third-degree felony theft, class A misdemeanor drug possession and class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Smith was then arrested Dec. 10, 2016, on a class B misdemeanor count of retail theft. And, again, Dec. 14, 2016, on five third-degree felony counts of possession of another’s identifying documents, retail theft and theft by deception, two class A misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and a class A misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
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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