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Officer cleared of DUI charges

Officer cleared of DUI charges

By Janet DelTufo, Assistant Editor

Wickenburg Police Department Narcotics Detective James Christian Sallee of Wickenburg has been cleared of two driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) charges he received after being involved in an automobile accident last December.

Sallee, who was represented in his case by Glendale attorney Richard D. Coffinger, was relieved of the charges after Town of Wickenburg Special Prosecutor James P. Hernandez of Peoria filed a motion to dismiss the charges.

The decision to dismiss the charges came after Sallee's attorney made two motions to suppress evidence.

Local attorney Eileen McGuire generally represents the town as prosecutor, but she removed herself from this case due to a conflict of interest. Wickenburg presiding Judge John C. Henry removed himself for the same reason, and the case was assigned to Judge Denise M. Holliday of Phoenix. Hernandez works as a prosecutor for the City of El Mirage.

The State hereby moves to dismiss the above referenced charges (extreme driving under the influence and driving under the influence) without prejudice on the grounds of no likelihood of conviction, Hernandez said in his motion to the court in reference to dismissing the DUI charges against Sallee. (Dismissing charges without prejudice means the charges can be refiled by the state.) The State has no opposition to defendant (Sallee) attending DDS (defensive driving school) and dismissing the charge of failure to control speed to avoid a collision upon completion thereof.

The two motions Sallee's attorney made to suppress evidence included the results of the breath alcohol concentration (BAC) test obtained after the accident, and an unlawful seizure resulting from coercion or deception.

Coffinger stated in his first motion that Wickenburg police officers failed to place Sallee under arrest for DUI, and that officer Ken Lutkiewicz filed a false statement with the Arizona Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division.

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