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The Salt Lake County district attorney took the witness stand Thursday for a second time to help determine whether her office will continue prosecuting the defendants accused of beating David James "DJ" Bell.
Lohra Miller, the district attorney, explained her office has to investigate and prosecute victims and witnesses to other crimes "almost daily." Miller gave the scenario of separate drivers committing traffic violations that lead to a collision with one another. Or, in a scenario that may be more apt to the Bell case, there may be a fight with many combatants.
"Our job is not to zealously represent clients, victims," Miller said. "It is to pursue justice."
The seven defendants accused of beating Bell want a judge to remove the District Attorney's Office from the prosecution. Defense attorneys argue the district attorney made promises that its office would not prosecute their clients if they testified in the Bell case.
The defense lawyers also have said they would have advised their clients not to testify if they had known they could be charged with crimes later. Third District Court Judge Robert Faust is expected to issue a written ruling sometime before a Sept. 20 hearing.
Seven defendants are charged with felony riot for the attack on Bell during an Independence Day party in 2008 in South Salt Lake. The defendants thought Bell had taken two young children into his home.
Bell was acquitted of kidnapping in a trial in 2009.
Miller also testified last week in a hearing on the same issue. On Thursday, Clayton Simms, the lawyer representing defendant Lisa Aiono, asked Miller about a news release her office issued in August 2008. The release said the district attorney would not press charges against parents of the children.
Simms asked Miller if the release was accurate. At first, Miller testified it was not accurate because her office did not have all the information from South Salt Lake police.
"There were additional facts we did not have," Miller said.
A few minutes later, Miller changed her answer, pointing to a section of the news release that said prosecution was declined due to insufficient evidence.
Angela Micklos, who was a deputy district attorney who prosecuted Bell, on Thursday said she interviewed the witnesses before the Bell trial, sometimes without their lawyers present, but would try to stop the beating suspects from discussing what happened after the alleged kidnapping.
"I didn't want to put myself in a position of being a witness against them," Micklos testified.
But sometimes the witnesses would volunteer information about the attack on Bell, Micklos said.
In closing arguments, Bevan Corry, who is the lawyer for defendant Ietitaia Nuusila, said prosecutors should have notified defense attorneys before interviewing witnesses in the Bell case if the witnesses were going to be charged with crimes later.
"That's first year law school stuff," Corry said.