Man accused of tampering with witnesses during jail phone calls is sentenced to prison

Fifth District Courthouse, Cedar City, Utah, June 16, 2017 | File photo by Mori Kessler, Cedar City News / St. George News

CEDAR CITY — A Cedar City man whose monitored phone calls earned him a felony witness tampering charge was sentenced to prison Tuesday.

In 5th District Court Tuesday morning, Judge Keith C. Barnes sentenced defendant Jacob David Alcantar, 27, to 0-5 years in prison for each of four counts, all third-degree felonies.

The first three counts, attempted robbery, aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, all stemmed from a March 10 incident wherein Alcantar reportedly struck and choked his girlfriend in the presence of their 4-year-old daughter.

A couple weeks later, on March 26, the scheduled day of his initial public hearing, Alcantar made two phone calls from Iron County Jail to his mother and girlfriend, during which he attempted to influence their testimony on his behalf, according to narcotics task force agents who were listening in on the calls.

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the witness tampering charge, Alcantar was heard telling his girlfriend “that her testimony goes further than what the cops saw and she doesn’t have to answer anything she doesn’t want to, she can plead the fifth whenever she wants.”

Jail booking photo of Jacob David Alcantar, Cedar City, Utah, March 2019 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The probable cause statement also said Alcantar reportedly told his 4-year-old daughter “I just want momma to help me so I can come home and see you. I’m going to be here a long time if mommy doesn’t.”

On March 27, the day after the jail phone calls were made, Deputy Iron County Attorney Shane Klenk formally filed the witness tampering charge.

Represented by defense attorney Jeffrey Slack, Alcantar expressed remorse in court Tuesday morning and requested he be granted probation. Alcantar had pleaded guilty to all four counts on May 7.

However, Klenk responded by reading aloud through some of the details of the case, including the conversations included in the probable cause statement.

Calling Alcantar’s behavior “manipulative,” Klenk said the witness tampering put the victims in “a difficult situation.”

Klenk also told the judge that Alcantar “acts out in extremely violent and dangerous ways.”

“He is a risk to the community,” Klenk said.

Even though prosecutors acknowledged the victim indicated that she doesn’t want to see Alcantar go to prison, Klenk noted it is the state’s responsibility to see that those who commit crimes are held accountable. 

Judge Barnes ultimately agreed with the county attorney’s office, saying he was most troubled by the witness tampering charge as he handed down the sentencing. The four sentences are to be served concurrently, the judge ordered. Restitution was left open. 

“We think that prison was an appropriate sentence and that the court was correct in imposing that sentence,” Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson told Cedar City News Tuesday afternoon. “We hope the Board of Pardons will take each count into consideration in determining how much of the 0-5 he will serve.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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