CEDAR CITY – A Beaver County man recently sentenced for multiple second-degree felonies is now missing after a judge granted him a week furlough to “get his affairs in order” before going to prison.
Robert Alan Hawkins was ordered to check in to the Beaver County Jail Monday at 3 p.m. to be transported to the Utah State Prison, but he never showed up.
Hawkins was sentenced March 14 to one to 15 years in the Utah State prison on three counts of distribution of a controlled substance and one count of possession with intent to distribute. He was originally charged with 13 separate charges. Of those, 11 were first- second- and third-degree felonies involving drug charges, including manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamines.
Two of the 13 charges were class B misdemeanors for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to court records, Hawkins was found with two female juveniles when arrested.
The 57-year-old is listed on the Utah sex offender registry for a 1981 conviction in Nevada involving lewdness with a minor under 14-years-old – a fact never revealed to the judge at sentencing, said Utah State Courts Communications Director Geoff Fattah.
The furlough came as part of a plea agreement by the Beaver County Attorney’s Office, who agreed to allow Hawkins the leave in exchange for a guilty plea of the four felonies and prison time.
However, when 6th District Judge Paul D. Lyman agreed to the arrangement, he was not informed of Hawkins’ status as a registered sex offender. This detail was presented to Fattah following an investigation by Cedar City News.
“Had he (Lyman) been told that the defendant was on the sex offender registry the outcome may have been different,” Fattah said. “It’s very likely the judge may not have agreed to the furlough had he known the full facts of the case.”
Fattah added that normally the judge would have a presentence investigation report provided to him that would include a risk assessment. In this case, however, the investigation was never conducted.
“This decision to grant furlough was presented to the judge as a joint decision by both the prosecutor and the defense attorney,” Fattah said. “So the judge would have trusted that the prosecutor did his due diligence in determining the risks involved before presenting the proposed agreement to the court for approval.”
Hawkins was not required to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts during the furlough but was ordered to report to the courts every morning, something which he did, Beaver County Attorney Von Christiansen confirmed.
Hawkins last reported Monday morning and later called to request additional time before having to check in to the jail for transport.
At around 4 p.m., an hour after he was supposed to report to the jail, Hawkins’ attorney Edrick J. Overson contacted authorities to let them know his client was on his way, but he never showed up
Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel calls Hawkins a “danger to the community” and a “threat to the public,” laying the blame for the furlough at the judge’s feet.
“I am furious over this whole thing,” Noel said. “I cannot believe that the judge allowed this man a week furlough. And I know that the prosecutor made the furlough request, but it was ultimately the judge’s decision and I just can’t get over that he would allow this to happen. It was the judge’s responsibility to ask what risk Hawkins posed to the community and the public, and he didn’t do that.”
Noel isn’t the only one upset either. Several of Hawkins’ neighbors contacted Cedar City News last week expressing outrage that the county attorney’s office would agree to a furlough of any kind.
Still, some authorities who worked Hawkins’ case said it was no small feat for the county attorney’s office to get a conviction of four felonies with a prison sentence.
Pointing to new legislative justice reforms advocating for rehabilitation in lieu of prison time, Beaver Iron Garfield Counties Narcotics Task Force Commander Jeff Malcolm said he has several recent cases where defendants with long criminal histories were sent to drug court rather than prison. Malcolm said:
I understand people are upset but how upset would they be if he was out walking around in the community on bail while awaiting trial? And how upset would they be if a jury found he wasn’t guilty of any charges – you never know what a jury will do. I know its hard to understand, but I have to tell you that given the justice system right now the fact that the Beaver County attorney was able to get four felony convictions and a guaranteed prison sentence is awesome because it’s just not happening. Defendants are not being sent to prison anymore, period. They’re just not. So this was a success.
Given the current environment, Christiansen said he believes a conviction of four felonies and guaranteed prison time was better than what the alternative posed.
“You never know what a jury is going to do,” Christiansen said, “and right now drug charges are not largely ending up with prison sentences. I don’t want to say it never happens because people do still go to prison, but they are sent to rehab and there is a push to send them to rehab far more now than it was three or four years ago.”
Christian said he believes authorities will find Hawkins and have him extradited back to Beaver County. A warrant for failure to comply with a court order has been issued and Hawkins has been listed under Beaver County’s “most wanted.”
The suspect is 6-foot, weighing approximately 240 pounds. He has a light complexion, blue eyes and a stocky build. Authorities have no leads at this time as to his whereabouts.
Authorities are asking the public to please contact the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office at 435-438-2862 or 911 with any information that may help lead to Hawkins’ arrest. .
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