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Mon, Aug. 19

Judge sets trial date in 89 double fatal

PRESCOTT – Elizabeth Matthews, a 39-year-old Pres-cott woman who is facing seven felonies counts in connection with a 2003 double- fatal accident, will stand trial in early January unless she accepts a plea agreement in the interim.

The 10-day trial is set to commence on Jan. 4.

During a pretrial conference on Tuesday, Matthews' lawyer, Billy Hicks, told the judge that negotiations regarding a plea agreement are in progress. He said that the state has extended a non-trial offer, but that he is uncertain as to the outcome.

The defense team as well as the state were hoping to get a trial date sometime in October or November. However, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Janis Sterling's schedule did not permit that.

The family of an elderly Bullhead City couple, Ivan and Olinda Emley, who died in the accident, voiced their opinions regarding the schedule.

John Faulkner, a son of the victims, said that he understands that the court is very busy, but that 14 months have already passed since the incident took place. "I just want it to get started," he said.

Sterling apologized about the delay, but explained that the process may conclude sooner if the defendant opts to accept a plea agreement.

She also set another pre-trial/change of plea conference for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 13.

A grand jury indicted Matthews in early April – 10 months after the fatal accident took place in Paulden – on seven counts including two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of endangerment and criminal damage.

If the case concludes with a conviction, all of the charges except criminal damage carry mandatory prison sentences, Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Dennis McGrane said previously.

According to reports, on May 28, 2003, Matthews was southbound on Highway 89 when she allegedly crossed the double yellow line on a blind curve while trying to pass an 18-wheeler. While passing, she reportedly struck a pickup truck and then the Emleys' car. Mr. Emley died at the scene and Mrs. Emley died 10 days later.

The pickup driver and a passenger suffered minor injuries. Doctors treated Matthews for minor injuries.

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