Judge deciding if prosecutors violated plea deal

Courts » Six months in jail recommended for man who released 600 mink.Courts » Six months in jail recommended for man who released 600 mink.

A federal judge is deciding whether prosecutors broke a bargain of asking for only six months of jail time in an animal rights activism case.

William James Viehl agreed to plead guilty to releasing 600 mink from the McMullin Fur Farm in South Jordan on Aug. 19, 2008, and spray-painting a barn with ALF (for Animal Liberation Front) and “We are watching.” In exchange, prosecutors said they’d recommend he do six months in jail.

On Nov. 12, Judge Dee Benson said he was planning to give Viehl two years or more in jail.

On Friday, Viehl’s defense attorney Heather Harris argued that while prosecutors did say they recommended six months, their presentation before the judge was much more condemning than a six-month sentence would justify. Prosecutors presented a slide show of other victims of animal rights activists and told Benson that while Viehl was being charged with a property crime, “that does not quite capture the offense that was committed by Mr. Viehl.”

Harris said that when the government agrees to a plea deal, they have to advocate for it in front of the judge.

“I don’t think this is what happened in this case,” said Harris, who has petitioned to have a judge other than Benson sentence her client.

Benson, who heard the arguments Friday, said that while he usually is lenient on first-time offenders such as Viehl, he had decided to sentence the 23-year-old Clearfield man to two years or more before the prosecution had the ability to persuade him in court. Benson said he based his decision on the testimony of the mink farm owner. But, he added, the arguments Friday did not center around when he made his decision, but rather if the prosecution upheld their bargain to support a six-month sentence.

“It’s like if you and I went to The Cheesecake Factory,” he told John Huber, an assistant U.S. attorney on Friday. “And you said the pasta, the cheesecake, everything is delicious, but then you said ‘You should just have a cup of tomato soup.’ The recommendation would be inconsistent with the buildup.”

Benson said he needs to read similar cases and do more research before he makes his decision.


source:  http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_13981411


5 Responses to “Judge deciding if prosecutors violated plea deal”

  1. who was representing the mink?

  2. In the case of William James Viehl, I think any time in jail is unjust. I think the owners of the Fur Farm should be jailed for ANIMAL ABUSE!!!


    “Animals Do Not Have A Voice Of Their Own. If We Do Not Stand Up And Speak For Them… Who Will?!”

  3. I agree with the posts above…who speaks for the mink…it’s disgusting that he writes ALF and frees (saves the life of) mink and he is the one facing jail…what is wrong with people…and how they relate his sentence to eating cheesecake…what the hell kind of justice system is this?

  4. alice cheng Says:

    I believe that he should not do ANY time. He should be dealt with respect for being so brave and saving the minks which dont have a voice of their own to protest against human cruelty and stupidity.
    Who on earth wants to wear fur anyway knowing that animals have suffered for your bloody coat?

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