TASER deployed when defendant tries to flee courtroom custody

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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.

Michael Ray Smith Jr., of St. George, Utah, booking photo posted Jan. 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News
Michael Ray Smith Jr., of St. George, Utah, booking photo posted Jan. 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

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.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • arrowone January 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Well that’s swell. Just keep letting him out, no problem.

  • ladybugavenger January 5, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    After the polygamist get away with stealing millions of dollars, who can blame the guy for trying to escape.

  • just saying January 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Well……just keep letting him go free! Darn court system!

  • .... January 5, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Well I hope he enjoys his stay at the purgatory paradise holding facility

  • sagemoon January 6, 2017 at 8:54 am

    HA, HA, HA! The dummy ran into a wall.

  • stupididiots January 7, 2017 at 6:53 am

    First off, let me set one thing straight… we ALL have made our share of mistakes in life… he should be forgiven… not called names… not judged… yes, he has been out before, however, the jail systems are soooooo full of people… they can’t keep people locked up forever for that reason… if that was the case… every jail in our Country would be in great danger…and serious criminals would be running wild on streets.

  • dixietruth January 7, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Maybe (not really) he deserved forgiveness the first time. He definitely doesn’t deserve it the third time (with 15 counts of breaking the law).
    He is being judged because he has no respect for the people of this community. Carrying around drugs and stealing OUR hard earned money. Is he so “GREAT” that he doesn’t have to get a real job like the rest of us?
    He IS a serious criminal! Neither him nor you seem to realize just how serious his crimes are. Stupid is the offender who doesn’t learn from his mistakes THE FIRST TIME!!!
    I for one hope, this worm who thinks its okay to steal from other peoples hard labor, never walks on our streets again.

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