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Sat, July 20

Judge refuses to ease probation for woman who stalked cops

Laura Jean Christianson

Laura Jean Christianson

PRESCOTT - A judge on Tuesday denied Laura Jean Christianson's petition to be moved from intensive probation to supervised probation in her police-stalking case.

Christianson, 43, of Prescott was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 15 years of intensive probation in August 2012 after pleading guilty to felony charges including stalking police officers.

Christianson reportedly drove past a police officer's home, waited in her car nearby, and showed up on calls he answered in late November 2011. Witnesses said she almost hit their van on Nov. 27, and a Prescott police officer saw her following another officer in April 2012.

As part of the plea agreement, Christianson pleaded guilty to two counts of stalking - class 5 felonies - aggravated harassment, and vehicular endangerment.

Tuesday, about a dozen police officers were in the courtroom as she requested to be taken off intensive probation, which is essentially house arrest, allowing the probationer to go only to work.

Three officers spoke to Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley, asking her not to change the conditions of Christianson's probation. All three mentioned that she had a book on how to commit "suicide by cop" - a term for a situation in which a suicidal person threatens a police officer with a weapon in the hopes the officer will shoot and kill him or her - in her home when she was arrested. They expressed concern that she might harm herself or others.

"When something goes wrong, everybody looks back and says, 'Why didn't somebody do something about this?'" one officer said, noting that Christianson's behavior was a "sign" that shouldn't be overlooked.

A detective told Ainley that "there are clear safety concerns for members of the Prescott Police Department," and that Christianson was on unsupervised probation in 2011. During that time, "she committed at least 29 felonies," he said.

The detective said there had been "no incidents" while Christianson was on intensive probation.

Deputy County Attorney Cynthia Spitler said Christianson had been sentenced to "15 years of intensive probation... but it has been only 7 months and 7 days" since then. "It was the understanding of the Prescott Police Department that she would be on intensive probation for much longer than a year," Spitler said.

Christianson's attorney, Kennedy Klagge, pointed out that her client had not requested the change, but that it had come from the county's Adult Probation Department. "She has successfully completed all phases of the intensive probation program, " Klagge said, and said the request was to move Christianson to supervised probation, not to unsupervised probation.

Klagge also said that there was evidence that keeping a person on intensive probation for too long was counterproductive.

"I understand that, certainly, intensive probation is not designed to be forever," Ainley said. "I also understand the seriousness of the behavior and I understand the officers' comments that, if it's not broken - if it's working - why change it?"

Ainley denied the petition. She said she'd revisit the issue, but wanted to see an evaluation from a mental health treatment provider about Christianson's status.

"Ms. Christianson, I do want to congratulate you on the efforts you've made on probation so far," Ainley said. "I think a little more time would only be helpful."


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