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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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2/3/2011 1:33:00 PM
Priem, Collins may seek grand jury remand in Sylar's death
Nancy Collins and Christina Priem
Nancy Collins and Christina Priem

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


CAMP VERDE - Christina Priem and her mother Nancy Collins were back in Yavapai County Superior Court Tuesday on a case management conference linked to the death of 2-year-old Sylar Newton at the Beaver Creek Campground last summer.

Priem and Collins' attorneys now suggest they will to ask that the case be sent back to the Grand Jury.

The custodial mother of Newton and Collins are charged with child abuse and drug offenses linked to the child's death.

Even though they appeared in court together, Priem, 36, and Collins, 57, have separate attorneys. Michael Shaw represents Collins, but Flagstaff private attorney Tony Gonzales has now withdrawn from representing Priem and Deputy Public Defender Robert Gundacker has assumed her defense.

Shaw asked the Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley for at least 30 days before a pre-trial conference is set in order to review the "significant discovery" he has now received.

Gundacker told the judge that he has received the discovery as well, but complained that "there is so much that has been redacted," that it is difficult to follow the chain of events. That black ink is "causing a hindrance" said Gundacker. He said "every non-victim's name has been redacted" and there were dozens of people and officers involved in the search. He emphasized, "even the search map is redacted."

The judge ordered that the attorneys be provided with a non-redacted copy of the discovery.

The judge asked Shaw if he has determined whether the case should be dubbed "complex," which would allow a longer timeframe for the trial process but Shaw says he is not ready to ask that yet. Ainley said that question would be decided at the case management conference she set for March 1 at 9 a.m.

Both women have claimed that Sylar wandered away from the campsite in the middle of the night.

After an exhaustive search of the surrounding area, Sylar's body was not found until three weeks later, about a mile away. The Sheriff's Office has ruled the case a homicide.

Priem is held pending $300,000 bond on drug and abuse charges. Collins is held on $75,000 bond on child abuse the child abuse charge.

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