TUCSON — Although he could face a minimum of 30 years in prison if convicted, local attorney Paul Randall Bays told a judge on Tuesday that he would rather go to trial on numerous charges, which include kidnapping and aggravated assault, rather than accept a plea deal.
At the status hearing in Pima County Superior Court before Judge James Marner, Bays also requested a change of venue for the trial. He wants it in Pima County instead of Cochise.
“There has been overwhelming pretrial publicity,” said Bays’ attorney Joseph DiRoberto. “It’s a carnival atmosphere.”
Bays was arrested by Cochise County Sheriff’s deputies after authorities said he broke a woman’s arm in March of this year.
Bays was involved in an altercation outside her home in which a woman was injured at her property when a car door was shut on her arm March 8, the sheriff’s department told the Herald/Review after the arrest. Bays was arrested hours later at his home in the early morning hours of March 9.
His pretrial release conditions included no contact with the victim. Bays has been accused by prosecutors of violating that order twice, most recently this past spring when prosecutors said he offered the woman $20,000 to drop the case, court records show.
He also drove onto her property, which violates a prior protective order, prosecutors said in the complaint.
After the second violation occurred, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, an attorney from Maricopa County, withdrew another plea deal that had been offered to Bays in September.
After Bays said Tuesday that he wanted to go to trial, Marner explained the risks to Bays and told Bays of the “importance of certainty in plea negotiations.”
Marner also informed Bays that he is familiar with the attorneys involved in the case and, if Bays were to accept a plea offer, Marner would likely abide by the recommended sentence.
But Bays remained steadfast and a trial date was set for March 31, 2020, in Cochise County Superior Court.
Marner told Bays and DiRoberto that they would have to file a motion regarding the change of venue request. A hearing date is expected to be scheduled for that motion.
The hearing Tuesday was held in Tucson because Bays has several cases he is working in Cochise County and that would present a conflict for judges there.
Bays is also the attorney for the City of Tombstone, where officials have said they will wait until the legal issues play out before making a decision about his status as city attorney.
HUACHUCA CITY — When the Huachuca City Senior Center closed its doors in January after an LLC discontinued its services there, town manager Matthew Williams wanted to find ways to reopen the facility as soon as possible.
Now that’s happened.
During an open house last week, the community packed the town senior center for a “one stop shopping” event designed to showcase a newly painted, vibrant center filled with representatives from different agencies across Cochise County where they provided information about resources.
SEAGO (SouthEastern Arizona Governments Organization) Area Agency on Aging, Department of Economic Security, Canyon Vista Medical Center’s Thrive program, Medicare, Healthy Huachuca City and the Lending Shed are some examples of participating agencies and organizations.
“The response to our open house has been amazing,” said Suzanne Harvey, Huachuca City library, senior and community services director.
The senior center will be open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will be open two nights a month for game night, on the first and third Thursdays, from 5 to 8 p.m., she added.
At her booth, Canyon Vista Thrive Coordinator Ericka Sullins talked about the program’s support groups, exercise classes, nutritional information and other healthy lifestyle resources offered through the hospital’s classes.
Huachuca City residents Bill and Cathy Stein stopped by the event to see what kinds of services are offered.
“We just moved back to Huachuca City about a month ago from Yuma, and we’re glad to be back,” Bill Stein said. “The poverty rate in Huachuca City is right around 38 percent, so these kinds of services that we’re seeing here today are great for the community.”
SEAGO Health & Nutrition Programs Coordinator Shi Martin was one of six SEAGO members that attended the open house.
“I think it’s wonderful that the town is able to give the senior center back to the community,” she said. “Giving seniors a hub for socialization and ways to find the resources that can help them is so important in preventing isolation and other issues. This senior center needed a revitalization, and that’s exactly what it got.”
Harris Rosenberg, another one of the town’s residents, echoed those comments.
“I think today’s event is awesome. The old senior center was sleepy, and now it’s more vibrant,” Harris said. “I used to come here quite a bit for events. It’s a great place, especially for seniors, because you meet people in your neighborhood and hear about other activities that are going on. This reminds me of a resource center with a Mayberry feel.”