It has been, as Judge Stephen Mock reminded the court yesterday afternoon, been eight and one half months since Michael Artz was convicted of the two lesser counts in his case stemming from oral copulation with a 16-year-old female student, a year behind him at Davis High, and from his ill-advised attempts to reconnect with her nine months later.
The District Attorney and Probation Department both recommended prison time. The Probation Report read that it could not support probation.
Nevertheless, Judge Mock said that the critical question is whether Mr. Artz poses a danger to the victim and to others in the community.
Two weeks ago, both Deputy DA Steve Mount, who took over the case due to the maternity leave of original Deputy DA Tiffany Susz, and Defense Attorney Kathryn Druliner made their closing statements.
Mr. Mount had argued that Michael Artz is in fact two-faced, citing that his words and actions do not match. He said the defendant knows right from wrong, but chooses the dark side when he believes people are not watching. He said that he may be sweet when people are watching, but can he be trusted to resist his dark side when no one else is watching him?
He argued that Mr. Artz’ professed empathy was a sham, that he failed to articulate how it impacted the victim and that all he expressed was sorrow that he got caught and how it impacted his family. That, Mr. Mount argued, was not the same as empathy for the victim.
On the question of whether Mr. Artz is dangerous, he argued that Mr. Artz is not stupid, but the victim is not now in danger (though he argued vehemently for a five-year-criminal protective order for the victim).
Mr. Mount argued for prison and when he did not get that, he argued strict requirements for probation, plus a lengthy county jail term.
In response, Kathryn Druliner had spent a good deal of time talking about mitigating factors, including the victim’s affair with the female who was six months older than Mr. Artz, and had made allegations of Detective Jeff Beasley’s improprieties, both in terms of his interrogation of Mr. Artz which violated his Miranda Rights, as well as his contact with the victim during the court trial.
Focusing on Mr. Artz, she argued that the DA asked for two psychological reports and both of them recommended probation.
She argued that we all have temptations, and Mr. Artz has his, but she also argued he is pretty good at facing these problems and articulating them. She argued that what he needed was therapy and medication for depression, along with strict requirements in probation. She does not consider Mr. Artz a danger to women in the community.
In addition to the probation report, Judge Mock had at his disposal two written reports by examining psychologists, both of whom recommended probation and both of whom considered Mr. Artz a low to moderate risk for future violence.
In his statement on his decision to impose sentence, he indicated that Dr. Soulier, one of the examining psychiatrists, had indicated that past behavior was a good indicator of the level of threat, and he noted that Mr. Artz did not have previous convictions nor did he have previous incidents that might be deemed as red flags, outside of the immediate case.
However, Judge Mock found it troubling that the two crimes for which Mr. Artz was convicted occurred nine months apart. He argued this represented a pattern that negated the fact that he no previous convictions.
He was even more troubled that the defendant testified in the sentencing face that he was still a little aroused by violent sex websites.
He also expressed concerns made by the defendant and defense counsel during the sentencing hearing which suggested that somehow evidence was tainted, despite the fact that Mr. Artz basically admitted to the two crimes.
Judge Mock argued that he knew the case well and he found no factual basis for any of the allegations. He argued that these were efforts to either minimize the crime or deflect responsibility and he found this troubling when deciding whether to grant probation.
Ms. Druliner would likely have pointed out that those claims were made in reference to the main offense, which had an element of force, and of which Mr. Artz was acquitted.
Nevertheless, he argued that a grant of probation could be fashioned in such a way as to both deal with these concerns and protect women in the community.
Mr. Artz was ordered to turn himself into court on June 3. He may have some options available to him for alternative sentencing for the jail term, which he can apply for in the interim.
—David M. Greenwald reporting