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Court decision on Park City High School tennis coach trial delayed

MARC surveillance video Aug. 29, 2022.
State of Utah vs. Lani Wilcox
MARC surveillance video Aug. 29, 2022.

A decision on whether the charges against former Park City High School tennis coach Lani Wilcox will move to trial was expected this week. But the defense has asked for more time.

The last time Lani Wilcox was in front of a judge was Jan. 3.

At that time, Judge Richard Mrazik asked the prosecution and defense to submit briefings summarizing their arguments. It would then be up to him to decide if the case would move to trial.

That decision was expected by Friday, March 24, but Wilcox’s attorneys asked for more time.

Tennis coach Lani Wilcox after the altercation with a player on the team.
Courtesy of Lani Wilcox
Tennis coach Lani Wilcox after the altercation with a player on the team.

Defense attorney Clayton Simms told KPCW he asked for a continuance so he could get new lawyers up to speed on the case.

The two sides are scheduled to be back in court on April 21.

Lani Wilcox faces one count of aggravated child abuse, a third-degree felony, and one count of interrupting an emergency phone call, a class-B misdemeanor, following an altercation with a student tennis player on Aug. 29, 2022.

According to the charges, Wilcox and the student got into an argument about the player’s position on the tennis team. The argument escalated and the student slapped Wilcox in the face.

In court, prosecutor Patricia Cassell argued that after the slap, Wilcox put the player into a chokehold, and she couldn’t breathe. That resulted in the third-degree aggravated child abuse charge.

Surveillance video played in court showed the slap, Wilcox grabbing the student, and then the two falling backwards. Wilcox testified that she suffered a concussion when her head hit the concrete.

Under a relatively new Utah law, before a case goes to trial, defendants can ask prosecutors to prove the alleged crime was not committed in self-defense or in defense of others.

Judge Mrazik asked that the briefings, among other things, show the proportionality of Wilcox's actions – meaning did the amount of force she used match the threat – as well as argue whether Wilcox’s actions were likely to cause death.

According to the brief filed by Wilcox’s attorneys on Feb. 10, “Coach Wilcox is the victim of aggravated assault and she responded to that forcible felony with the force necessary to defend herself and others.”

The prosecutor did not comment on the county’s case against Wilcox.

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