John Colthrap’s preliminary hearing
postponed pending new evidence
By James Tilson
Jan. 25, 2018
MANTI—After defendant John Coltharp declared, “I’m not in a rush to complete things,” and after both the prosecutor and defense attorney reported new information was coming to light in his kidnapping case, Judge Wallace Lee postponed his preliminary hearing until Feb. 20.
Judge Lee made the decision during Coltharp’s appearance in 6th District Court in Manti on Wednesday, Jan. 17 for what was to have been his preliminary hearing.
According to law enforcement officers, Coltharp, originally of Spring City, joined a religious group called Knights of the Crystal Blade, which believes in child marriage. Investigators say last fall, he took his four children, ages 4 through 8, to a Crystal Blade settlement in Iron County.
In early December, officers recovered the children from Iron County. Some of the children were found locked up in plastic water barrels. Officers took the children to their mother, who lives in Utah County.
Coltharp is charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of sodomy on a child, both first-degree felonies, and one count of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. He is being held in the Sanpete County Jail on $150,000 cash-only bail.
Paul Frischknect, who has been appointed Coltharp’s attorney, told the judge that the state was “contemplating additional charges,” and there was “discoverable information” he, as defense counsel, had not yet received.
“Going for a preliminary hearing with only [some] pieces of the puzzle would be a disservice to my client,” explained Frischknect.
Kevin Daniels, deputy county attorney, agreed with Frischknect’s reasoning. Daniels told the judge that within the last week he had received quite a bit of new information, which he had not yet disclosed to Frischknect.
The deputy county attorney said new charges may be forthcoming, which he said he would handle by amending present charging documents
Frischknect told the judge that even the presently disclosed evidence was “massive,” with three reports in the case totaling 120 pages, and it would be in everyone’s best interest to gather all the information together before holding the preliminary hearing.
By the end of the day, Daniels had amended charges against Coltharp and filed charges against his co-defendant, Samuel Shaffer.
Originally, the obstruction of justice charge against Coltharp was a Class A misdemeanor. The day of the hearing, the charge was bumped up to a second-degree felony.
Charges were also filed against Shaffer that day. He is now charged in Sanpete County with two counts of sodomy of a child, both first-degree felonies; one count of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and one count of lewdness with a child, a Class A misdemeanor.
All of the counts against Shaffer were based on acts that allegedly occurred on Dec. 1, 2017 within Sanpete County.
The new charges arose out of continuing investigation of the case. Sanpete investigators found that contrary to previous reports that Coltharp and Shaffer were in Sanpete County by themselves on Dec. 1, 2017 when Coltharp was arrested, they actually had the child victims with them. Investigators found they took action to hide the children from authorities.
Shaffer is being held in the Iron County Jail. Iron County has charged him with two counts of child kidnapping, both first-degree felonies, and four counts of child abuse with serious bodily injury, all second-degree felonies.