TUCSON — A Sierra Vista defense attorney who told a judge that he preferred to face trial rather than admit to domestic violence charges pleaded guilty on Friday in Pima County, a court official said.
Paul Randall Bays, who is also the city attorney for Tombstone, entered his plea before Pima County Superior Judge James Marner. The exact charges Bays pleaded to were not readily available Friday.
The indictment lodged against him last March lists eight charges, but a plea agreement in August posed by special prosecutor Elizabeth Ortiz of Maricopa County offered to drop six of the eight offenses.
That plea deal was withdrawn after Bays violated the terms of his release twice. Neither Ortiz nor Bays’ attorney Joseph DiRoberto, could be reached Friday despite several calls and messages left by the Herald/Review.
Bays was arrested by Cochise County Sheriff’s deputies after authorities said he broke a woman’s wrist on March 8, 2019. Investigators said Bays was involved in an altercation outside the victim’s house, to include shutting a car door on the woman’s arm. Bays was arrested hours after the altercation at his home on March 9, authorities said.
While Bays’ pretrial release conditions included no contact with the woman, Bays was accused of violating that twice, court records show. The most recent offense was last spring when Bays offered the victim $20,000 to drop the case, court records show. He also drove onto her property, which violated a prior protective order, prosecutors said in the complaint.
After the second violation occurred, Ortiz withdrew the plea deal offered in September. In that agreement, the state said it would convict Bays of two “undesignated felonies” that included disorderly conduct and unlawful imprisonment, with probation available.
At a hearing in October though, Bays told Marner that he would face trial even though he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison if convicted. The judge explained the risks of going to trial and the “importance of certainty in plea negotiations.”
Through all the pretrial release violations and court hearings, Bays has remained the attorney for the city of Tombstone.
In October, Tombstone Mayor Dusty Escapule told the Herald/Review that the city would wait to see what happened in court with Bays before deciding his employment status.
On Friday, Escapule said Bays remains employed by the city.
“He stays on as long as he has a license to practice law,” Escapule said. “Unless I get a notice from the (Arizona) Bar Association that he can’t practice law, he stays on. I mean, it was two misdemeanors.”
Bays is expected to be sentenced by Marner on March 30.