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Utah attorney's sentence sparks courtroom chaos

Published December 16, 2013 7:42 pm

Courts • Midvale lawyer sentenced to a year in jail for firing shots at paralegal's condo.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Midvale attorney Harold W. Stone III was sentenced Monday to a year in jail for shooting bullets into the home of a woman he had allegedly stalked.

He put her in fear for her life, she told the court. He endangered her young son and damaged her property.

But when the verdict came down, it was 3rd District Judge Robin Reese who was heckled and called a "terrible" person.

As Stone was handcuffed at the front of the room, his family erupted in shouts and tears.

Clearly shocked by the verdict, Stone's 18-year-old daughter wailed. His mother screamed, "no, no, no, no," as courtroom bailiffs tried to corral the family and usher them out of the room.

The teenager asked if she could give her father a hug before he was locked up. When the bailiffs refused, the lanky teen attempted to push her way past the officers. They blocked her path.

Stone's daughter and mother were half-carried from the courtroom by bailiffs while the attorney's father shouted over the shoulder of law enforcement.

"I don't understand how you let her manipulate you," he cried, referring to the victim in this case — paralegal Angie Johnston, with whom Stone worked at his law office in Midvale.

Stone, 36, pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of discharging a firearm in exchange for the dismissal of two additional charges: stalking and obstructing justice, second- and third-degree felonies, respectively.

At the outset of Monday's hearing, Stone faced up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors did not recommend jail time for Stone, and Stone himself had asked for leniency, but the victim asked he be sentenced to one year behind bars.

"I'm terrified of Harold," she said. "He shot at my son's bedroom with a 9mm, he shot at my home with a 9mm. ... He needs to serve significant jail time, and he needs to have his gun taken away."

Judge Reese agreed.

After serving one year in jail, Reese ordered Stone to be placed on probation for three years. During that time he will be forbidden from consuming or being anywhere near drugs or alcohol, and if he's caught with a gun, he could be sent to prison.

"Just because you deserve time to prove yourself doesn't mean you shouldn't be punished as well," the judge said. "In order to prove yourself, sometimes you need to wade through the penalty part of it with grace and dignity."

Stone, who represented himself in the case, told the judge that he and Johnston had an affair. He said the infidelity eventually contributed to the unravelling of his marriage at the time, and he was angry.

"It's like you roll out of bed, sprain your ankle, your wife says she's leaving you, you go to work to find out you've lost your job, so you go home and the dog barks. And you kick the dog. The dog didn't do anything — it just happened to be there, " Stone said. "I kicked the dog. I wasn't mad at her, I was mad at me."

According to charging documents, the windows of the then-29-year-old woman's condo were shot out on June, 2, 2010. No one was home at the time.

Soon after, the woman was telling co-workers at the law office of Stone & Law about the incident when Stone, her boss, admitted to firing the shots, the documents state.

The woman reported this to police, as well as stalking from both before and after the shooting via phone calls and text messages, the charges allege.

While investigating the shooting, police found several bullet slugs embedded in the walls of the woman's condo, charges state, including some in the bedroom of her child.

Police have said they obtained text messages sent by Stone admitting to the condo shooting. Stone also admitted he returned to the scene to retrieve shell casings, according to court documents.

He was charged in this case in January 2011.

In 1997 and 1998, when Stone was 20, he was charged with several criminal cases in Roosevelt's 8th District Court. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, unlawful purchase of alcohol, retail theft and disorderly conduct.

A graduate of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif., Stone has been a member of the Utah Bar since 2004.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Marissa_Jae