St. George -- A 5th District Court judge's ruling Wednesday will allow the case against Rodney Holm, a Colorado City, Ariz., police officer, to go forward. But charges against one of his wives were dismissed.
During a preliminary hearing, Judge G. Rand Beacham ruled that Holm stand trial on three felony counts -- two of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and one count of bigamy.
Charges against his first wife, Suzie Holm, were dismissed. She was accused of aiding and abetting unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and bigamy, but Beacham said there was not enough evidence of her involvement to retain the charge. Charges against both Rodney and Suzie Holm were based on his alleged sexual conduct with his third wife -- Ruth Stubbs, Suzie Holm's sister.
Rodney Holm opted to enter pleas of innocent on all charges Wednesday rather than wait for an arraignment hearing. A one-week trial will be scheduled, probably for March or April.
During the hearing, Rodney Holm's attorney, Max Wheeler, acknowledged that the prosecution produced sufficient evidence to argue the unlawful sexual conduct but said there was no proof the activity took place in Utah. Wheeler also argued there was evidence of cohabitation, but not actual marriages, between Rodney Holm and Ruth Stubbs.
The "marriages" performed in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a known polygamist sect in the border communities of Colorado City and Hildale, are of a spiritual nature.
But a photograph of the wedding of Ruth Stubbs and Rodney Holm, submitted by the prosecution as evidence, was enough for Beacham to uphold the bigamy charge.
"I think that is sufficient for the court to infer at least that there was a purported marriage," Beacham said.
Beacham agreed with Assistant Attorney General Kristine Knowlton's reasoning that the birth certificates of Ruth Stubbs, Rodney Holm and their two minor children were proof enough -- along with the couple's Utah street address -- to uphold two counts of unlawful sexual conduct.
The certificates show that Stubbs was 16 years old when her first child was conceived, and Rodney Holm was 32. They also show that Stubbs was 17 when she conceived her second child. According to state statute, a person cannot lawfully have sex with a 16- or 17-year-old if that person is 10 years or more his or her senior.
As the alleged victim in the case, Ruth Stubbs' absence at the hearing was the focus of much of Wednesday's testimony. Ruth Stubbs has never actually received a subpoena and has given many indications that she will not help the prosecution's case against Rodney Holm, although she was once willing.
Ron Barton, an investigator for the Utah Attorney General's Office, took the stand, and both the prosecution and the defense questioned Barton about how and when prosecutors attempted to deliver a subpoena to Ruth Stubbs.
Bill Walker, Ruth Stubbs' attorney, was also questioned on the stand as to why the subpoena never reached his client. Walker said both he and the prosecuting attorneys thought Walker could accept the subpoena for Ruth Stubbs.
"When I represented her, she was ready, willing and able to testify," Walker said.
Now, Walker said he doesn't know where Ruth Stubbs is living, and nor do attorneys for the prosecution or defense.
Ruth Stubbs' absence appeared to have little effect in the case against Rodney Holm, and Walker said after the hearing that he does not think it will in the future either. Proof of the unlawful sexual conduct is there, he said.
"I'd like to see any evidence to the contrary," Walker said.
Pennie Stubbs Petersen, Suzie Holm's sister, also took the stand Wednesday.
Rodney and Suzie Holm did not comment Wednesday, although they embraced and smiled when the hearing was over.
Their attorney, Rodney Parker, read a brief statement to the press. Parker said the state was attempting to destroy the structure of a family just because it is out of the ordinary. Parker also said they were pleased the charges against Suzie Holm were dismissed.
"We never understood why those charges were brought," Parker said.