By Matthew Hendley
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LaNita Koontz says she "just got sick" when she learned what had happened over in St. Johns. "I took our petitions and just threw them out," she says. "They didn't mean anything anymore."
Lisa Weyrauch, the ex-prosecutor who would have bet Crosby was going to get thirty years, says she didn't know her deal had been undone until after Crosby's sentencing.
"If I had known all this was going to happen," Weyrauch says, "I'd like to think I would have gone to court and spoken up. Crosby is a very frightening individual. Apache County has historically been tough on sex offenders, but I guess not on those who are supported by a prominent segment of the community. I told the victims they'd be taken care of. They weren't."
White Mountain Independent publisher Diana Kramer wrote a stinging editorial a week after Crosby's sentencing. "Sometimes children from influential families get preferential treatment, while victims get ignored," Kramer's piece concluded. "One's name shouldn't have anything to do with justice."
That kind of analysis gets a rise out of County Attorney Steve Udall.
"We don't do any favoritism for anybody, irregardless of who the family is," he says. "And religion never enters into the system here, that's a fact. It's hogwash to say otherwise. Ask anyone."
Udall ought not ask Rex Ann Bills. Now living in southern Arizona, Bills is embittered by what happened to her--at the hands of Dale Crosby, the Apache County justice system and those former neighbors who signed the infamous petition.
"I still don't really understand what happened," she says. "That petition, that stupid letter--I don't understand those people. I wouldn't want to ever live there again. I thought the creep is supposed to be the bad guy, not the victim. I still want to talk to Udall bad. I'd tell him, `If Dale hurts someone when he gets out, I hope it's someone you're close to. Then maybe you'll do things right.'"
Judge Nelson, a non-Mormon resident of Window Rock appointed to the bench last year by Governor Rose Mofford, tries to justify his role in the Crosby case. His explanation sheds a disturbing light on justice in Apache County.
"We have a lot of old-line families up here, good Mormon families," the judge says. "They're all from here for generations--they settled this county together. With Interstate 40 criminals, you know they're not going to be back in the community, so you tend not to show much mercy. With someone from the community, you try to give them an opportunity to have a chance at a life at some point. Most likely they're going to be back sometime."®MDRV¯
Dale Crosby's reign of terror has torn tight-knit Round Valley apart.
To some longtime Round Valley residents, it seems obvious that it's who you are that matters most in Apache County's justice system.
Crosby admitted to a clinical social worker that he'd been a peeping Tom since he was about twelve.
"We knew he was skating because of who he was, or who his family was. That's the way it works up here."
She realized that a man in a black ski mask was standing beside her bed.
Crosby showed "emotional distress" to this question on a lie-detector test: "Have you ever raped anyone?"
The detective saw distinct similarities between Flagstaff killer Ricky Bible and Dale Crosby.
"He came to my house not just to scare me, but to end my life. I do not know what stopped him from doing just that."
Not one of Dale Crosby's victims was in the courtroom when Judge Nelson sentenced him.