MAN ABOUT TOWN
Craig Wayman grew up on a farm in Payson, Utah. His parents bought 150 acres in what became Saratoga Springs in 1980, with leasing options on another 300 acres. They cleared out the land, irrigated it and planted apple, cherry, peach and apricot trees. Saratoga Springs was incorporated in 1997. His father, Reid Wayman, was on the original city council and was, his son says, “instrumental in the development of the city.” In August 2010, Councilman Cecil Tuley proposed naming a park after the Wayman family, but as yet, the park remains without a title.
His marital life has not been easy. His first wife, Monica, rolled the car the day they were driving to Las Vegas to get married when they were 18. She was paralyzed from the waist down and gets around in a wheelchair. After 10 years, they divorced. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s an amazing man,” she says.
Wayman was married for a second time for three years, a relationship that also ended in a divorce, one that Wayman characterizes as non-acrimonious.
Wayman met his third wife, Melinda Bird, at an Impact training personal development course, in 2003. The second day of their honeymoon in Machu Picchu, Peru, he says she left him for the day, announcing she wanted to be alone. “I realized things weren’t quite as they appeared,” he says. They had two children together but separated in 2007. On July 24, 2008, when Wayman went to pick up his two sons, then ages 1 and 2, he and Bird got into a fight. She filed a police report alleging he spit at her, grabbed her by the arm and shoved her down. Wayman says during an argument she grabbed him by the testicles, which made him “reactively spit,” and he then set her down on the ground before fleeing. A week later, Bird gave the Saratoga Springs Police Department photographs downloaded from her cell that showed a bruise on her leg and marks on her arm, with handwritten dates on them.
On August 20, 2008, Commissioner Thomas Patton in 4th District Court denied Bird’s petition for a protective order. But that would not be the end of Wayman’s legal entanglements. He learned from Bird that SSPD was going to file charges against him. Wayman spoke to SSPD Detective Bruce Champagne, who, unbeknownst to Wayman, was a former neighbor of his, living just a few doors down from the home Wayman had moved out of when he separated from Bird, and also socialized with Wayman’s mother every Sunday in the local ward house. Champagne, a former West Valley City Police officer, was both lead detective on the case and also case manager through Wayman’s trials. He would later testify to Stoney and several 4th District court juries that he felt Wayman was trying to influence his decision over filing charges by informing him of his status in the town. Wayman says he simply wanted Champagne to do his job and investigate his side of the story, something he believes the officer never did.
Becky Pirente is also a neighbor of Champagne’s and a friend of Wayman’s who helped mediate between him and Bird. In a signed statement regarding a summer 2009 conversation Pirente had with Champagne, Pirente claimed Champagne wanted Wayman “to accept the charges filed against him and warned that ‘they’ had more to charge him with if he were to persist” resisting the charges. Anything Wayman did to fight the charges would mean that the judicial system “would come back at Craig ten times harder.” Champagne told Pirente he believed Wayman was an abuser. Regardless of any extenuating circumstances, Champagne told his neighbor, “As the man of the house, Craig should have been able to control the situation.” Champagne told Pirente that Wayman was, “the most corrupt, dishonest and manipulative individual he had ever encountered.”
Wayman was charged with two class B misdemeanors, assault and domestic violence but missed his court date for trial before Stoney. When he went down to city hall—at Champagne’s suggestion, he says—to resolve the problem the following day, he was arrested and released on $10,000 bail.
SLAP FOR SLAP
When he takes the bench in Saratoga Springs every other Friday, justice court Judge Stoney has been known to say, “In my real life, I am a judge in West Valley City.” Stoney shares the bench with Judge Brendan McCullough. Kent Hart, executive director of the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, finds the contrast between the two judges instructive. “Although both are former prosecutors, Judge McCullough is more fair-minded and reasonable,” Hart says. “He is able to put himself in the defendant’s and defense attorney’s shoes and impose fair and effective sentences. Judge Stoney’s demeanor and decisions are more visceral and harsh, which reflects his punitive view of the world even when reason and cost-effectiveness suggest more compassion and deliberation.”
On Jan. 1, 2008, Saratoga Springs Justice Court opened its doors. Lindsay Jarvis, who had prosecuted cases before Stoney in West Valley City for a year, was its prosecutor. Saratoga residents, Stoney says, “with few exceptions, are very polite and willing to accept responsibility for their mistakes, pay their fines and get on with life.”
Wayman hadn’t done himself any favors with Stoney when, on Oct. 15, 2008, he requested a continuance and contrasted “the judge’s history and this case.” Wayman was alluding to the fact that in 1995, Stoney’s own ex-wife had made domestic-violence allegations at Stoney shortly after he was made a pro-tem 3rd District Court judge. Stoney resigned his appointment and returned to his position as a West Valley City prosecutor.
Stoney says Wayman’s past comments “had nothing to do with my decision-making process in his case.”
On Nov. 21, 2008, Wayman appeared pro se before Judge Stoney. Bird’s allegations had expanded from the original police report to include being verbally abused and kicked while on the ground by Wayman.
When his first wife, Monica, testified about Wayman’s character, Jarvis asked her if Wayman had abused her. She recalled an incident when they were 18 when Craig Wayman slapped her. Stoney, in his judicial order, characterized the slap as abuse. Monica Wayman, however, says, “If it came across that way to Judge Stoney, that was totally not the case.” She described the incident as “not an anger moment,” but rather about trust. “In 30 years, he’s never once shown aggression. I trust him with my life and my kids,” she says now.
Stoney found Craig Wayman guilty of the abuse charges against his third wife, Melinda Bird. Wayman requested he be sentenced immediately, but the judge sent him to jail with no bail pending sentencing on Jan. 9, 2009, leaving him no opportunity to get his affairs in order. This was because Wayman had failed to comply with a Oct. 24, 2008, protective order for, among several other violations, sending Bird a text calling her “a two-bit whore” in the early hours of the morning after he drove by their former home and saw a car in the driveway. Wayman says while the text was ill advised, it occurred on Oct. 11, when there was no protective order in place.
“The most disturbing thing was I had no idea when I was getting out,” Wayman says. “I’d get my hopes up, then be rejected.” His mind constantly processed the events. “I’d wake up at night and think of the insanity of it.”
Becky Pirente attended one of Wayman’s Saratoga Springs court hearings where Wayman was brought in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed and manacled. Stoney, she says, “behaved in a quite unprofessional fashion.” Stoney was upset about Wayman investigating the judge’s past online, notably allegations of domestic violence. Pirente says Stoney took it very personally. “He seemed outraged anyone would question his standing. He went on quite a while, berating Craig as a defendant, while defending his record as a judge.”
Wayman’s attorney, Larry Larsen, filed several unsuccessful motions attempting to get him out. Stoney declined to release him, however, and eventually sentenced Wayman to 60 days in jail. Wayman was also charged, while in jail, with one felony count of stalking, which included the supposed text violation. The stalking charge was heard by a jury in Judge Samuel McVey’s 4th District courtroom on June 2, 2009, where he was found guilty.
When Wayman stood to be sentenced, he couldn’t contain his anger and frustration. “I get you want to hear me be apologetic,” he told McVey, but “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. These charges are so drummed up and so fabricated.” Wayman noted that Bird had made similar allegations against previous husbands. After Wayman’s outburst, McVey told him he was tripling the sentence, and he was going to give him to 60 days in jail and three years probation.
Eight days before he was to be released, Wayman was in court again, for a review of his appeal of his domestic-violence convictions. Before a judge unfamiliar with the case, Saratoga Prosecutor Jarvis brought up new, startling allegations. Wayman, she told the judge, “is attempting to hire someone to kill Detective Champagne,” she said, “and actually made threats against me,” noting the source was an unnamed former Wayman employee. Utah County, she added, “is currently investigating that as we speak.” This may have come as a surprise to Utah County. Both Wayman and his current attorney, Greg Stewart, separately inquired at Utah County about the investigation. Stewart says, “The prosecutors’ clerks and the investigator’s office had no record of any [such] investigation.”
Nevertheless, with such dark rumblings in the background, the judge found “there’s a very definite pattern here of [Wayman] being an aggressor, and the same victim being subjected to this time and time again,” he said. He ordered a $50,000 cash-only bail, put both Champagne and Jarvis on the protective order, and ordered Wayman to stay out of Saratoga Springs, until Wayman’s lawyer pointed out he lived there. The high bail meant Wayman says he spent another 38 days behind bars, over and above the 60 days he received from McVey.