Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2014

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Man accused in fatal accident out on bail

A Las Vegas man accused of causing an accident that killed three local residents has been released from jail.

Mitchell Dettloff's attorney, Karen Winckler, said Dettloff was released from the Clark County Detention Center on Monday and placed on house arrest.

Dettloff, 35, had been held on $500,000 bail in the deaths of Benjamin Barton, 8, Holly Barton, 33, and James Cooper, 30. He is also accused of critically injuring James Barton, 32.

Prosecutors allege Dettloff lost control of his vehicle while driving on U.S. 95 April 22. They say it forced a pickup truck carrying the Barton family to strike Cooper's vehicle head-on.

Dettloff fled from the scene of the accident. He was arrested three days after the accident at the Rio hotel-casino, where he was staying in a room rented by his fiancee, Elizabeth Baclaan.

Dettloff was indicted May 8 on four counts each of leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving and three counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Dettloff's release from jail comes just days after his attorneys contacted jail officials about the possibility of Dettloff marrying Baclaan in the jail.

Jail Capt. Henry Hooglund said he informed the attorneys he is opposed to such weddings.

"Typically we find them so disruptive here that, unless there is a compelling reason, we ask the court not to indulge them," Hooglund said.

A jail wedding would require the inmate to be taken from his cell to another location and that creates security concerns, Hooglund said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Booker said he had expressed his concern that Dettloff may be wanting to get married to prevent his new wife from testifying at his trial.

Booker said typically spouses cannot be forced to testify against each other. In researching the issue, however, his office has since learned that that right cannot be applied to incidents that took place prior to the marriage.

Winckler said Monday the wedding is "on hold."

At one point, a Clark County grand jury expressed interest in prosecuting Baclaan herself. The grand jury members asked the district attorney's office to look into what it would take to sustain a perjury charge.

The DA's office decided that Baclaan lied to the grand jury, but she did not lie about material facts -- those facts that pertain to the accident itself.

People can only be charged with perjury if it is believed they lied about material facts.

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