Kamas man charged with second felony
A Kamas man who allegedly swerved at bicyclists in his pickup truck is now charged with two felonies for aggravated assault.
Alexander Jason Barto, 41, waived his preliminary hearing in the case Monday at 3rd District Court in the Snyderville Basin. A status hearing for Barto is scheduled Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m.
"Yes I am your honor," Barto said when asked by Judge Bruce Lubeck if he understood that decision.
Barto is charged with two third-degree felonies for aggravated assault. He also faces seven misdemeanor charges for operating a vehicle near a bicycle and a class C misdemeanor for allegedly failing to register his truck.
A 2005 law suggests Utah drivers stay about three feet from bicyclists when it’s safe to do so.
"It’s a pretty new law," Skordas said, adding that "very few" have likely been charged for violating the rule.
People convicted of third-degree felonies in Utah could spend up to five years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine for each count.
Barto may be best known for campaigning unsuccessfully for a seat on the Kamas City Council in 2007. He also has expressed interest in running for the mayor post in Kamas next year.
But witnesses say Barto buzzed and harassed bicyclists Aug. 2 on the Mirror Lake Highway east of Kamas, according to Summit County prosecutor Paul Christensen.
Salt Lake County Bicycle Advisory Committee Chairman Dan Fazzini attended Monday’s hearing and said Barto might have misjudged the distance if he swerved at the riders.
"He may have intended just to scare them or to force them off the road, which is assault with a 4,000-pound piece of equipment," Fazzini said. "To go after the cyclists specifically just to scare them is assault."
The two felony charges stem from Barto allegedly swerving at two cyclists with intent to do them harm, Skordas said.
According to defense attorney Greg Skordas, "The state has extended an offer."
"With any case we would have discussions about resolving it short of trial," said Skordas outside the courtroom Monday. "We certainly haven’t entered any plea to anything yet and I don’t know that [Barto] will but we want to keep the lines of communication open in case we can resolve the case."
Barto did not seriously injure any bicyclists.
"There were five cyclists down below and two up above The new [charging document] has a felony for each of the two up above," the defense attorney said about an amended complaint prosecutors filed Aug. 20. "We are talking about ways of resolving the case."
He did not respond to questions about the merits of the prosecution’s claims. But Skordas emphasized that Barto is not a suspect in the unexplained death of Peoa resident JoAnne Krajeski who died in July as the result of a bike crash on Brown’s Canyon Road.
"[Investigators] are not interested in that at all with [Barto]," Skordas said. "They’re not pursuing that at all."
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said this week that "gross findings" from Krajeski’s autopsy showed no signs of foul play.
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