Law enforcement officials are paying attention to alleged death threats made recently against a judge, but they don’t want to say anything about it publicly.
Third District Judge Andrew Valdez said in court this past week that he had gotten law enforcement protection at his home last weekend, but he did not know why until learning about it at an emergency hearing where a 16-year-old girl testified that members of her polygamist family had threatened to kill him and others.
Valdez also recommended law enforcement act on the allegations and he hoped it would put some people behind bars.
Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah State Attorney General’s Office, made this statement when asked about Valdez’s situation: “Regarding security, we’re receiving assistance from many agencies.
“We’re not ignoring this new information,” Murphy said. “We’re taking appropriate measures to deal with the alleged threats.”
Nancy Volmer, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Court, said it is the court’s policy not to discuss security matters.
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The girl had been taken from the custody of her parents, John Daniel Kingston and Heidi Mattingly, because of abuse. The girl testified that she repeatedly heard some of her relatives, who are part of the polygamist Kingston clan, discuss killing Valdez, who ordered her removal from the home.
The girl also said these relatives had talked about killing Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Nichols, Guardian ad Litem Kristen Brewer and Division of Family Services case worker Curtis Giles by doing such things as running their cars off the road, shooting them or “blowing up the courthouse and getting them all with one shot.”
Her comments came at a hearing that was convened quickly this past week to address “safety issues” involving 10 of the 11 children of Kingston and Mattingly who have been removed from the home by the court.
At that hearing, Valdez also said he hoped “charging agencies” were “paying attention” and that he hoped some people would go to jail.
Robert Stott, spokesman for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, said the general practice is for police agencies to look into suspected crimes and make referrals to the district attorney’s office, which then can lodge formal charges.
As for the alleged threats involving Valdez and the others, “I don’t know of anything that’s been referred and I don’t know of any charges pending,” Stott said.
If some other agency or the courts take action regarding the alleged threats, “we’ll certainly do what we need to do,” Stott said.
Russell Pietryga, attorney for Heidi Mattingly, said Tuesday that his client did not control other Kingston family members and could not be responsible for their conduct.