ST. GEORGE — A LaVerkin man accused of attempting to kidnap a teenage girl near a high school earlier this year pleaded not guilty in 5th District Court Tuesday morning.
Earl Brandon Chappell, 40, along with attorney Michael Lastowski, appeared in 5th District Court before Judge Eric Ludlow for arraignment. Chappell pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree felony aggravated attempted kidnapping and a class B misdemeanor for drug paraphernalia.
Chappell is accused of trying to kidnap a 15-year-old girl at gunpoint near Hurricane High School the morning of March 4. He was found at his home approximately 11 hours after the incident occurred and taken into custody without incident.
A four-day trial has been scheduled for October.
Ludlow ruled the state had enough evidence to move Chappell’s case forward to trial after a preliminary hearing last month.
During the hearing, the teen, now 16, said she discovered a man, later identified as Chappell, following her while walking to school after her father had dropped her off nearby. She said Chappell pointed a semiautomatic pistol at her and told her to get into a car parked alongside the road.
The teen said she saw some people across the street and started screaming. Chappell then told her to “go ahead and run,” she said.
The girl ran into Hurricane High School, and an investigation into the incident began. Surveillance footage taken from a nearby gas station was used to identify Chappell as a possible suspect.
The car he allegedly told the teen to get into, a white Volkswagen, was also located and found to be occupied by a woman identified as Chappell’s wife. Police showed her a photo taken from the surveillance footage of the alleged suspect, who she identified as her husband. She told police he was at his home in LaVerkin.
Chappell was taken into custody at his home without incident 11 hours after the alleged kidnapping attempt.
Hurricane City Police Officer Steve Johnson, who led the investigation into the incident, said during the preliminary hearing that Chappell told police he didn’t recall anything at the time the alleged incident occurred.
“He doesn’t recall what he did at eight o’clock in the morning,” Johnson said.
Chappell told police he remembered getting off work and going to a friend’s home to drink whiskey and eventually waking up in his own bed shortly before being arrested, Johnson said.
The incident resulted in six schools in the Hurricane area being put on lock-out for at least two hours while police conducted their investigation and searched for the suspect.
Ed. note: It was reported in error that Ryan Stout was serving as Chappell’s attorney. Currently serving as Chappell’s defense attorney is Michael Lastowski. The body of the text has been updated with the correct name.
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