|Rodney Holm's sentence stayed|
By Rachel Olsen|
ST. GEORGE -- Rodney Hans Holm, with a stayed sentence, will serve one year in the Washington County jail on work release. Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham sentenced Holm on Friday to no more than five years in the Utah State Prison on each of his three charges and ordered the sentence on each be served concurrently. However, Beacham stayed that sentence on 36 months of probation, in addition to time served in the Washington County Jail on work release.
Beacham said he believed no sentence he could impose could deter Holm's religious convictions, nor should any government ruling make a person change religious convictions.
On Aug. 14, after deliberating for an hour and 40 minutes, a jury found Holm guilty of all three charges levied against him -- two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and one count of bigamy. Holm pleaded innocent to the charges at his preliminary hearing Dec. 11.
The case against Holm was the first to target a polygamist within an organized religious polygamist community since the raids on Short Creek in 1953 and originated from a custody battle between Holm and Ruth Stubbs, Holm's third "wife" and the victim in the case.
During the sentencing, Kristine Knowlton, assistant attorney general, said there were several aggravated circumstances in the case, namely that Holm was a police officer, sworn to uphold the law and also in the position of trust as Stubbs brother-in-law.
Rodney Parker, defense counsel for Holm, mentioned the multiple character testimonies in Holm's favor, in addition to the letter sent from the victim in the case, Ruth Stubbs, in opposition to Holm spending time in prison.
"My eyes still tear up as I think about how this will affect my children. ... While I don't want to be his wife, (Holm) is still an awesome and loving father," Stubbs' letter read.
Parker and Knowlton discussed the issue of Holm's respect for the law and remorse for his actions. Beacham said while Holm acknowledged a violation of law, Beacham didn't know if one could expect him to show remorse, especially with the circumstances of, and surrounding, the case.
And, while Knowlton said part of the importance of sentencing was to send a message, Parker countered by saying it would be inappropriate to make an example of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Holm's religion which practices polygamy.
"The punishment will be uniquely visited on him alone," Parker said.
Before Beacham issued his sentence, Holm made one comment to the court.
"I love my family, my children very much. I'm grateful for the opportunity to take care of them," Holm said.
The case against Holm started almost a year ago. During the jury trial, the state used documents such as photos from the spiritual ceremony joining Stubbs and Holm, and the birth certificates of Holm, Stubbs and their two oldest children.
A jury found these facts to show Holm, a former police officer in both Utah and Arizona, took Stubbs as his third wife in 1998 when he was 32 and she was 16, and that they became the parents of two children before Stubbs reached the age of 18.
Under Utah Code (76-5-401.2), a person 10 years or more the senior of a sexual partner that is 16 or 17 years old is committing unlawful sexual conduct, a third-degree felony.
Utah Code section 76-7-101 states that "a person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person." Bigamy is a third-degree felony.
Defense rested at the jury trial after calling only one witness to the stand. The issue was then discussed as to whether or not the defense should be allowed to call three additional defense witnesses.
Parker said at the time his expert witnesses would be needed to explain religious concepts and deeper understanding of a "door" he said the prosecution left wide open -- the door of polygamy.
"Polygamy is not on trial. Mr. Holm is on trial," Knowlton said Aug. 13.
During the trial, Ruth Stubbs also took the stand and reiterated facts of her life in spiritual union with Holm.
Ruth Stubbs hesitated some while testifying and even failed to show up during Holm's Dec. 11 preliminary hearing.
Ruth Stubbs had indicated which side of the case she was on Sept. 23, 2002, after Holm and Ruth Stubbs reached and signed a notarized agreement over the custody case.
"As soon as the custody case has been resolved, I will be willing to talk to whoever is helping Rod out of jail," Ruth Stubbs wrote in a notarized letter on file at the Fifth District Court. "I do not want Rod to go to jail."
The state issued a warrant for the arrest of Holm Oct. 3, 2002, the same day the Fifth District Court sealed that warrant and probable cause statement. Knowlton, in a Sept. 25, 2002 motion, asked the court to seal such information.
However, on Oct. 4, 2002, The Salt Lake Tribune filed a petition to have the documents unsealed. The Attorney General's Office then requested the court unseal the documents Oct. 7, 2002.
In response to the conviction and sentencing, Parker filed a notice to appeal at Friday's proceedings.
Originally published Saturday, October 11, 2003
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