Appeals Court Overturns Conviction of Zabriskies

Appeals Court Overturns Conviction of Zabriskies

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the convictions of former Orem attorney Dean N. Zabriskie and his son Slade.

The appeals court granted them a new trial, saying the judge in the first trial had erred by talking with a juror.

The two were convicted in July 2002 of concealing a fugitive from arrest.

Dean Zabriskie, who also was convicted of concealing and disposing of stolen goods, was sentenced to more than five years in prison and fined $10,000. Slade Zabriskie was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

Slade was released last week after serving his sentence. Dean remained in federal prison.

The convictions stemmed from Dean Zabriskie's representation of Gerry Curtis Branagan in a criminal case.

Branagan, who was released from a California prison in the late 1980s after serving a sentence for burglary, was arrested in Utah in 1993 and charged with multiple counts of child sex abuse.

Warrants were outstanding for Branagan since 1995, when he was found guilty of child sexual abuse and sentenced to five years in prison. Branagan did not appear in court for his trial or sentencing and was not caught until his 1999 arrest in San Diego.

The Zabriskies were accused of transporting Branagan's stolen property from California to Utah and traveling from Utah to other states to meet with the fugitive.

In arguing for a new trial, the Zabriskies said the jury lacked sufficient evidence to convict either of them of concealing or harboring a fugitive and that a judge erred when she talked to a juror during the deliberations.

During jury deliberations, the judge received four notes from the jury. The first one asked the judge what to do if they could not reach a unanimous decision. In the other notes, the jurors informed the judge that one of them was refusing to follow the rules, deliberate with others and change his mind.

The judge then spoke with the juror, who said he was willing to participate in deliberations.

More than seven hours later, the jury returned the verdict.

The appeals court rejected the Zabriskies' contention there was a lack of evidence, but agreed judge's contact with the juror was impermissible.

The activities of Dean and Slade Zabriskie had no connection to their distant cousin Dale Zabriskie, the well-known head of a public relations firm.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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