Pesticide technician pleads not guilty in girls' deaths

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LAYTON -- A pesticide technician charged in the deaths of two Layton children pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon.

It was a quick hearing in court but the first appearance for 62-year-old Coleman Nocks, who's accused of putting too much pesticide too close to the home of Toone family.

Prosecutors claim Nocks failed to follow the directions when he applied chemical pellets to the Toone's yard back in February. Investigators believe toxic phosphine gas from the pellets seeped into the home and sickened Rebecca Toone, age 4, and her 15-month-old sister, Rachel. The girls died days after the pesticide was applied.

Nocks has been charged with two counts of class A misdemeanor negligent homicide. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail on each count.

Tuesday in court, the judge read the charges against him, then Nocks submitted a plea of not guilty. He was also assigned a public defender.

The prosecutor says the case is moving in the right direction.

"Just as though we want to make sure the wrongs are addressed, we want to make sure his rights are protected as well," said Assistant Layton City Attorney Steve Garside. "So, we think it's appropriate that he be able to have the opportunity to meet with counsel and to discuss those issues."

Nocks said nothing as he left the courthouse. When asked for a comment, a man who accompanied Nocks to court would only say, "Yeah, we're going to the movies later tonight. Thank you for being here."

In court, the same man also sarcastically asked the pool photographer if she wouldn't like to take another photo.

Nocks and the company he works for, Bugman Pest and Lawn, are also facing charges from the Department of Agriculture.

The prosecutor in the criminal case says both cases can proceed at the same time while sharing evidence.

The next step is a pretrial hearing to determine if the case will go to a bench or jury trial, or if things can be recovered before that point. It will take place July 6.


Story compiled with contributions from Sarah Dallof, Marc Giauque and The Associated Press.


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