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.