VERNAL, Utah, Dec. 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A mistrial has been declared in the trial of three men accused of taking turns assaulting a 9-year-old girl in Vernal last year.
The mistrial was declared due to a lack of potential jurors, according to a tweet from Geoffrey Fattah, spokesman for the Utah Court system. About a third of those called for jury duty did not appear, leaving too small a pool of jurors for attorneys to choose from.
A judge has granted a change of venue request, and the case is expected to move to a Summit County courtroom. Attorneys from both sides have scheduled a meeting to determine how to proceed.
Charged in the case are Larson RonDeau, 38, Jerry Flatlip, 21, and Randall Flatlip, 27.
The charges stem from an incident alleged to have occurred on March 27, 2016, an Easter Sunday. According to a police report, the girl’s mother was visiting a friend she had met while incarcerated, and she left her daughter asleep on the sofa to go to the garage and use methamphetamine.
The girl was reportedly held down and assaulted by four men, who were also staying in the house, and who threatened to kill the child if she told anyone.
The girl waited two days to tell her mother about the assault, according to the police report. The mother provided the names of the suspects, who were later identified by the child from a photo lineup.
Police conducted more interviews and returned to the scene to collect evidence.
The four men were charged with rape of a child and sodomy of a child, both first-degree felonies. All denied assaulting the girl.
Charges against one man were dismissed after a witness, the girl’s mother, could not be located. The girl, a Native American, was returned to the custody of her tribe.