Murder Witness Charged with Aggravated Assault Pleads to Obstructing Justice

Aggravated Assault, Manslaughter, and Murder

One of the interesting things about criminal prosecutions is the negotiation and plea process.  Take the Karr brothers case for example.  Adam and Ammon Karr were hosting a party at their house one night where Kaleb Yazzie attended and was asked to leave.  The Karr brothers began to fight with Yazzie when Adam Karr allegedly stabbed Yazzie in the chest several times.  A 17 year old named Stephen Thomason then allegedly dragged Yazzie’s body down the road and stomped on Yazzie’s head, leaving him for dead.

Ammon Karr was charged with a Utah aggravated assault and obstructing justice.  Apparently he may have been involved in the fight but did not use a weapon like his brother did.  Ammon plead guilty to obstructing justice while his brother is awaiting his preliminary hearing for murder charges.  Thomason plead no contest in juvenile court to manslaughter.

What is Obstruction of Justice?

Ammon Karr successfully negotiated getting his aggravated assault charged dismissed.  He instead pleaded to obstruction of justice.  There are several ways to obstruct justice.  The defendant must have intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense and then does at least one of the following: (a) provides any person with a weapon; (b) prevents by force, intimidation, or deception, any person from performing any act that might aid in the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person;   (c) alters, destroys, conceals, or removes any item or other thing; (d) makes, presents, or uses any item or thing known by the actor to be false;  (e) harbors or conceals a person; (f) provides a person with transportation, disguise, or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension;  (g) warns any person of impending discovery or apprehension; (h) warns any person of an order authorizing the interception of wire communications or of a pending application for an order authorizing the interception of wire communications;  (i) conceals information that is not privileged and that concerns the offense, after a judge or magistrate has ordered the actor to provide the information; or (j) provides false information regarding a suspect, a witness, the conduct constituting an offense, or any other material aspect of the investigation.

It’s unclear what Ammon Karr did obstruct justice, but it wouldn’t be entirely out of the ordinary that in order for Ammon to get the aggravated assault charge he agreed to plead to a legal fiction of obstruction of justice.  Obstruction of justice is one of those catch-all crimes that prosecutors love to tack on to other offenses because just about anything constitutes obstructing justice.

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