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Plea deal falls apart in stalking case against former police chief


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DUCHESNE — A former Utah police chief accused of stalking three women has rejected a plea deal offered by Duchesne County prosecutors.

Thomas Wade Butterfield, 44, is charged in 8th District Court with three counts of stalking and one count of criminal trespass, all class A misdemeanors. Prosecutors have also charged him with unlawful detention, a class B misdemeanor.

On Monday, Butterfield pleaded guilty to one count of stalking, a class A misdemeanor, in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining charges. But before Judge Samuel Chiara could finish the process of accepting Butterfield's guilty plea, the agreement between the prosecution and defense fell apart.

Duchesne County prosecutor Grant Charles told Chiara that the single stalking count would cover Butterfield's alleged actions against three women who claim the former Myton police chief stalked them and made them fear for their safety.

Defense attorney Earl Xaiz objected to the prosecutor's statement following a brief conversation with his client.

"To admit that all of the elements of that one count applies to all three victims, we can't. Mr. Butterfield is not willing to stipulate to that," Xaiz said.

After hearing from Xaiz, the judge rejected Butterfield's guilty plea and set a preliminary hearing for May 11.

Butterfield entered a conditional waiver of his right to a preliminary hearing in December. The conditional waiver allowed him to change his mind and ask for a preliminary hearing at a later date, Xaiz said.

The Duchesne County case is not the first time Butterfield has been accused of inappropriate conduct involving women, according to court records, as well as interviews with former employers and with a woman who says Butterfield victimized her.

In 2000, Butterfield was charged in 4th District Court with criminal trespass after a former girlfriend told Orem police that Butterfield had entered her home without permission. The charge was originally filed as a class B misdemeanor but, as part of a plea deal, was amended to an infraction and Butterfield pleaded no contest, according to court records.

Butterfield was a Lehi police officer at the time. The Peace Officer Standards and Training Council unanimously voted to suspend his law enforcement certification for a year, adjusting his suspension to begin in November 1999.

When the suspension ended, Butterfield returned to law enforcement, working over the next 14 years for the Spring City and Roosevelt police departments, and the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office.

Butterfield resigned from the sheriff's office in December 2010 while he was the subject of an internal investigation into alleged misconduct involving a woman, according to Sheriff-elect David Boren. Roosevelt Police Chief Rick Harrison said he fired Butterfield in April 2013 due to allegations of inappropriate behavior made by two women.

In July, Butterfield was hired by Myton to run its newly organized police department. He was placed on administrative leave when the criminal charges were filed in September and ultimately fired on Oct. 31.

On Monday, Charles told the Deseret News that Butterfield relinquished his police certification to Peace Officer Standards and Training on March 9. The relinquishment means Butterfield's law enforcement career in Utah is permanently finished, according to POST.

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Geoff Liesik

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