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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 25, 2016

4/2/2014 1:20:00 PM
Fanning case a classic example of slow-moving wheels of justice
Tessa Fanning
Tessa Fanning

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

This is a textbook example of why they say the wheels of justice turn slowly.

The indictment of 20-year-old Tessa Fanning by a Yavapai Grand Jury was originally handed down April 12, 2013, alleging three counts of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 18. In this case, all three felonies charged are considered Class 6, a felony that could merit probation instead of prison. The incidents are alleged to have occurred over a period of 11 months between January and November 2011.

Fanning is the daughter of Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning.

Prescott Attorney Thomas Kelly responded on behalf of Fanning. Coconino Deputy County Attorney Bryan Shae was listed as the prosecuting attorney for the state.

Disclosure documents filed in the court included 14 names of individuals the prosecution intends to call for statements at trial plus documents that include text messages and Facebook postings.

Starting in May 2013, Shae asked to appear telephonically, which was granted by Superior Court judge Michael Bluff.

The case had an initial appearance with all parties present except Shae on May 9. The case was transferred out of Bluff's court to Judge Jennifer Campbell with permission granted for counsel to appear again by phone. The appearance lasted for five minutes and the next case management conference was scheduled June 11.

At the June appearance, Kelly told Judge Campbell he had read the disclosure information and was discussing a non-trial resolution with the prosecution. The appearance lasted four minutes and a new court date was set July 23.

On July 23, another deputy Coconino County attorney represented Bryan Shae by phone. Kelly asked that the defendant be allowed to travel to New Mexico to attend college. The motion was granted. Kelly suggested a possible change of plea during the next meeting, Aug. 27. The appearance lasted four minutes.

But before that appearance could go forward, Shae, on Aug. 19, reported a jury trial would conflict with the case management conference and requested a continuance for a month. The request was ordered with the next appearance scheduled for Sept. 17.

Before that appearance, Defense Counsel Kelly requested modification of the defendant's release conditions so that Fanning could travel from the college to play softball with her college team. The change was ordered by Campbell on Aug. 30.

Sept. 9, a Kelly motion requested the case management conference be continued for another 30 days.

Sept. 13, the judge ordered that motion. The next meeting was scheduled Nov. 17, 2013.

At the Nov. 19 appearance, the defendant, through her attorney, Tom Kelly, requested a continuance as he was continuing to work on the non-trial resolution. A new date was ordered for Jan. 7, 2014. The appearance took two minutes.

All parties appeared Jan. 17 in court with Shae by phone. Council requested a continuance for two months and asked to schedule a "Donald hearing" to show the differences between a change of plea and the possible penalty if the case goes to trial. Campbell ordered the new date for March 11, 2014. Appearance time was four minutes.

On Jan. 16, Kelly requested a modification of release conditions to accommodate Fanning's softball schedule between February and May, and the order was signed by Campbell. On Feb. 28, the defense attorney requested a continuance and Judge Campbell approved a change to March 31.

It is then that the presiding judge ordered reassignment of Campbell from Camp Verde to a Prescott courtroom

On March 24, Kelly asked for a 30-day continuance and the March 31 appearance was vacated by Judge Bluff and reset for May 20 because Fanning is attending college. Since she is attending college in New Mexico, the May 20 date will alleviate further calendaring conflicts.

By comparison, Cornville resident Cody Shotwell, another young person charged with sexual conduct with a minor, will face sentencing April 14 at 3 p.m.

Originally charged with six counts of sexual conduct with a minor, the case was filed Dec. 23, 2013, and then was transferred to Superior court Dec. 26, 2013.

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Related Stories:
• Fanning case delayed to March
• Fanning makes first appearance before judge
• Police chief's daughter indicted on sex-with-minor charges

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Article comment by: Just Me

From your paper:
Court Docket: Jan, 29, 2013
Cody Jacob Shotwell, 20, Cornville, Sexual Conduct With Minor DV (11 counts), Sexual Conduct With Minor (6 counts), Disorderly Conduct DV, Assault DV, No Bond.

Did you forget to mention the Disorderly Conduct and Assault per Domestic Violence charges?

From the Public Access Case Lookup site:

Citation Count Description Disp. Date Disposition

Also from the Access site:

Case Activity
Date Description Party

No mention of any trial activity. That would seem to indicate Mr. Shotwell must have accepted the plea deal offered at the Early Disposition Hearing.

So, basically, it appears this article compares a violent sex offender who apparently took a plea deal to avoid trial and nonviolent sex offender who is exercising her constitutional rights to DUE PROCESS. Hardly a valid or honest comparison.

Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

If Yavapai government cannot police itself then all incidents become crucibles. If Yavapai government can police itself then their are no incidents only misunderstandings.

Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Article comment by: @ Things to think about

While much of what you wrote is true, a 19 yr old woman pursuing a 14 yr old girl after the child's parents warned her and she was court ordered to leave the child alone is inexcusable.

I can hardly believe all the people making excuses for Fanning's behavior. It is pretty obvious that the prosecutor, judge and public defender are working hard to let her off with minimum sentencing. This case venue should have been changed to Maricopa County right from the start.

My prediction is that Ms Fanning will get probation with minimum supervision and will NOT have to register as a sex offender.

Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Article comment by: Clarice Christian

Everyone knows it is all about who you know! Anyone else would be sentenced by now. For her to be able to go out of state and attend college is frankly unbelievable.

The justice system failed long ago when, the law that is suppose to protect it citizens, allow for injustice to occur due to money and affiliations.

A young person I know got in trouble for the first time at 18 in Yavapai County. Did not hurt or kill anyone, not drug affiliated, not sex related, no DUI, however just made a poor decision.

The justice system prosecuted a first time offender to the full extent of the law however 10 years later due to the size of restitution owed, this individual cannot get off probation.

Couldn't leave the County for years even to find work when the recession hit even though had a family to support.

Municipalities get money for everyone they incarcerate! It is a business don't think for one minute that they don't want to keep people in the system including your children!

A judge allowed that individual to move to the Valley, (can't leave the state still) to find a better job to support the family. This individual has never reoffended in 10 years!

When I read this article it solidifies the fact that it is not what you know but who you know and in this case it is the Police Chief.

She should not have been allowed to leave the state. What makes her different than any other person being tried for a crime? Tax payers money-your money hard at work.

It is time to move on for the victim and family, not for Ms. Fanning to go to college.

Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Article comment by: Disappointed in our community

Disappointed that our local paper has turned into a tabloid... There has to be some real news out there! Put some work in and support something positive in your community you leaches! Can you ever report something that is good and inspiring. Drawing attention back to these families and bringing out the comments of the "riff raff" that hate police and public figures... is that the market you are striving for?
To those who continue to compare this case with any other, get your facts straight... oh wait you can't because you only know what this paper prints! None of you, including the author of the articles, actually knows the truth behind this. Justice does take time, so that they get it right! That's the wonderful thing about the system. Obviously this case is not cut and dried, therefore all parties are making sure they do things right! Concentrate on your own families and lives and leave these poor people (both families) alone.
Mr. Hutchinson, what exactly is your point with the article. Honestly you are the one that should go back to college... and learn how to build an article that has a point! You build up this big timeline and your hit line is to compare the case with a totally unrelated and uncomparible case. You didn't even do the math to make an impact point...
This paper is a joke, the reporters are lazy and have an agenda instead of seeking the facts and writing interesting, inspiring articles.
You know the fair is coming up soon, I bet you can get a good article about some conspiracy about how the winners of the Pig show must "know somebody"... should look into it really, your writing stinks and so does the pig poop!
Move on people...

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Reality Check

@Things to Think about
I don't get this statement:..."Yet, I question labeling a child like Fanning, a sex offender." She is an adult. Not a child. I know both parties involved. The minor was 14 and Fanning was 19 when this all began. It's not a "couple of years", It is almost a 5 year age difference, a very significant difference at that stage in life. Laws are in place for a reason. IF a sexual relationship is proven then she broke the law. Plain and simple.

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Things to Think about

Being a teenager is such a tough stage of life. You are trying to figure out who you are and your hormones are raging. You are right on precipice of becoming a legal adult with all the responsibilities as such, yet you are still just a child. Scientific studies have shown us that our brains don't fully mature until we are well into our twenties.

How many of us dated older people when we were much younger? Or younger people when we were much older? Human beings are unique . . . I have known childish elders and mature young adults.

Am I saying this is okay? No, because I don't have the facts and I was not there. I wonder if the fact that these are two women have anything to do with the charges? Does the fact her father is Chief affect the situation negatively or positively?

One thing I do know is that it was not a violent crime. I have seen no proof that Fanning is an actual predetor as of yet. I know the law will not take these things into consideration and maybe that is good. Yet, I question labeling a child like Fanning, a sex offender.

A few years back I read a story about a young man who was charged and still carries that label for more than ten years because the girl he was dating was underage when he was just still a teen himself (16-19). More than a decade later, he is married, father of two and still stuck in a system that will forever negatively impact his life.

For the record, I am trained in my field to work with children. I do not know the Fannings beyond their community standing, him being a public servant. I just thought people should think about all the factors before they string anyone up, here and in court.

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Just an Observation

First of all Tessa is not a "kid". I believe she is a 22 or 23 year old adult. Therefore the comment about how would you feel if it was your kid on the front page is ridiculous. Secondly, when the article came out about a year ago the comments that were made about the victim's family were disgusting & appalling. All of the "support the Chief", "The Fannings are wonderful"etc.... One even stated the mother of the victim should be ashamed of herself for ruining Tessa's life & there was a special place in the here and after for her. Even accusarions were made that the charges were fabricated. Yet her defense attorney is working out a plea agreement. If I were truly innocent I wouldn't plead guilty to anything. Go back and read them...they are all still there. I find it disturbing that the judge on the case has repeatedly signed off on continuances to "accomodate Fanning's softball/school schedule." Seriously...are you kidding me? Interesting that she has now been "reassigned to the Prescott Courthouse". Something smells fishy. In the meantime the "true victim" in all of this has not received closure. Tessa nor her family have not been victimized in any way shape or form although they perceive themselves to be. They have obviously utilized their connections to draw this out as long as possible in hopes that it would go away. In my opinion the Fannings should be ashamed of themselves. If Tessa was a man and not the daughter of the Chief of Police she wouldn't have been afforded all these "courtesies". I applaud the family that have stuck to their beliefs and protected their child.

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Jennifer Arsert

This article...... I agree 100%! This paper is constantly printing crap like this. This is a total waste of space, let the justice system work and leave well enough alone. How about some reporting on the sport events at CMS? Their sports program has gotten little or no press from this paper. This paper only prints sports articles on the high school and all of the "special teams" created by parents to have a place for there kids to play. As a consumer I would like a paper that actually printed news worthy information rather than continuing to try and embarrass the Chief of police, or printing article that parents call in so their child gets some press. It is a joke, and it is the biggest reason why I do not buy or subscribe to the paper.

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: The Other Side .........

I tried to have someone arrested because they inappropriately touched my child. I called and reported this case and nothing was done. The "perp" got away with it. My only satisfaction is that this person has passed away and the Lord is now doing the punishment.
It is who you know and what you know. If you know the proper channels to take and do you can get out of most anything. Look at all the celebs that get away with murder. Money will buy whatever you want. So will knowing the system and being in the "family".

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: The wheels of justice do Turn slowly in cases like these.

The tactic is to delay the case as long as possible. Look at the Ricardo Costa case. Delay, delay, delay, then hope you get a mob of blind supporters from Sedona that will support you in jail, and then plead guilty and get deported back to Brazil.

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

First step is to get a court date.90 days at most
delays only cost us money.Go clear your name.(or not)

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Jane

If this were a man (unrelated to the Police Chief) accused of this crime, he would already be convicted and serving hard time. It sure seems like the Public Defender is working extra hard on this case. I wonder why?

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: This article 'a classic example of' picking the low hanging fruit.

In hopes of generating more page clicks.

Bring on the barrage of 'who you know' accusations. While we may all have our issues with police or government... stop and take a look at your kids for 2 seconds. Imagine that face plastered on the cover of a news paper over and over.

The desire to fill page space and generate page views should not over ride some basic decency.

Not defending whatever took place but I thought this was the country where we let courts and juries decide guilt not the local paper and public opinion.

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Article comment by: Gail Tubbs

You have to understand, Mr. Hutchinson, that it is extremely important that our sexual predators be college educated BEFORE they go to court. However, to keep our justice process fair, someone should get Cody Shotwell enrolled ASAP!

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