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State appeal pending after Park City tennis coach's charges dismissed

Lani Wilcox and defense attorney Clayton Simms in court Tuesday, Oct. 25 for preliminary hearing
Kimberly Flores
Lani Wilcox and defense attorney Clayton Simms appear in court Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, for a hearing.

It's been one year since a judge dismissed child abuse charges against a Park City tennis coach.

Summit County prosecutors appealed the case to the state level last June, and the Utah Attorney General’s Office filed its argument with the appellate court in December.

But Wilcox’s own attorneys continue to ask the Utah Court of Appeals for more time and have yet to file their own brief. Extensions have been granted four times, an appeals court clerk told KPCW May 17.

District court previously cleared Park City High School tennis coach Lani Wilcox of wrongdoing in an altercation she had with a player.

County prosecutors had charged the coach with child abuse in 2022 over a heated argument at practice, during which Wilcox restrained a 16-year-old girl who had slapped her.

In May 2023 3rd District Court Judge Richard Mrazik dismissed the charges. He found the coach’s use of force was justified to protect others, though not necessarily justified to protect herself.

In court papers, state prosecutors say district court was wrong because Wilcox couldn’t know whether the athlete was a danger to anyone else. They also claim the coach used “disproportionate, deadly force.”

Wilcox’s attorney Clayton Simms didn’t respond to a request for comment May 24.

He’s previously compared the appeal to “performing CPR on a corpse” and told KPCW it doesn’t make sense for prosecutors to file it. Simms said prosecutors aren’t likely to win at a trial, where there’s a higher burden of proof than at a justification hearing.

The state is asking the Utah Court of Appeals to send the case back to district court for a trial.

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