Crime victims in Utah are suing state agencies after they say violent criminals were wrongfully released and improperly monitored

The plaintiffs’ stories are “horrific and frightening,” said an attorney representing them.

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Clarence Newman, one of the plaintiffs named in a lawsuit against state correctional officials filed Monday, is seated Monday, May 1, 2023 at the law office of Robert Sykes in Salt Lake City, as he describes when a man broke into his house and that of his wife and burned it down.

A group of Utah crime victims and their families are suing state correctional officers for “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct,” alleging violent offenders were unfairly placed on parole or probation and then improperly monitored, making the offenders “avoidable.” could commit crimes.

Robert Sykes, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said Monday at a news conference at his Salt Lake City law office that his clients’ stories were “terrifying and frightening.”

The 47-page complaint, filed in the 3rd Circuit Court on Monday, details crimes including murder, arson and sexual assault that were committed after the perpetrators were allegedly wrongfully released from prison and then failed to properly supervise what the constitutional law requires Victims’ rights violated.

Four of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit — Linda Nemelka, Shandon Scott, Farrell Bartschi and Sandra Robles — were all killed by men who violated their probation, the complaint said. The victims’ family members spoke on their behalf Monday, often pausing as they choked with emotion.

According to the lawsuit, members of Utah Adult Probation & Parole, which is overseen by the Utah Department of Corrections, also “falsified reports and records to cover up the errors and omissions.”

The Corrections Department and Utah Adult Probation & Parole did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday afternoon.

A father who was shot on a walk

When Farrell Bartschi was shot dead while taking a morning walk in October 2021, he was a healthy 82-year-old who had been taking similar walks every day around 7 a.m. for years, his daughter Kim Dixon said Monday.

After Noel Munoz allegedly shot Lopez Bartschi in the torso, Lopez’s family came out of the house and confronted him, but Lopez drove away. Lopez’s relatives tried to help Bartschi, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police documents say the shooting happened while Lopez was on probation and that Bartschi was a “total stranger” to him. Lopez is also listed as a restricted person due to previous convictions for “at least four violent crimes,” including attempted manslaughter.

“I have no doubt he would still be with us if [Utah Adult Probation & Parole] would have done their job,” said Bartschis daughter on Monday.

A daughter was found dead in a car

Among the other plaintiffs present at Monday’s news conference was Marjorie Charles-Scott, who spoke in tears as she described her daughter, Shandon Nicole Scott. The 32-year-old was found shot dead in a car on Interstate 80 in May 2021.

The lawsuit alleges that the Utah Board of Pardons & Paroles released suspect Terrence Vos from prison on an early release. He and Scott had dated prior to his incarceration.

Before he went to jail, Vos was convicted of multiple firearms offenses, according to the lawsuit. During his detention, he assaulted another prisoner, the ad says.

An ankle monitor was put on Vos when he was released, the complaint says, but Adult Probation & Parole did not use it to properly monitor him.

Vos attacked Scott in October and November 2020, breaking her leg. Both attacks were reported to police, but Vos was never contacted by Adult Probation & Parole or arrested, the lawsuit says.

Months later, Vos allegedly shot Scott and then put her in a car before overturning the vehicle on I-80.

No defendant named in the complaint had immediately filed a response as of Monday afternoon.

Sykes said the lawsuit could be expanded to include additional plaintiffs should more come forward. Interested parties can contact Sykes Law Offices at 801-533-0222.

Justin Scaccy

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