Four individuals charged with assaulting D.J. Bell and his partner Dan Fair on July 4, 2008 have been scheduled for their first court appearance, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. But police are still looking for three people facing criminal charges in the beatings.
The attacks happened during an early morning Fourth of July party, shortly after one of Bell and Fair’s neighbors, Tapululululu Latu (also known as Lulu Latu) discovered two children from the party at Bell’s house.
Bell has said the children, both toddlers, had followed him onto his property asking for Kool Aid.
Upon recovering the children, Bell said that Latu slapped him and called him a pedophile and several anti-gay names before threatening to send her family over. Shortly after her departure, police records state that several of Latu’s family and friends at the party rushed next door and began beating Bell and Fair.
At the time, police arrested the severely injured Bell on charges of burglary and attempted child kidnapping. He was cleared of all charges in September 2009, at which time his defense attorneys, Roger Kraft and Susanne Gustin announced that they would seek charges against the couple’s assailants.
On March 2, the DA’s office brought 16 charges against seven people including Latu, her boyfriend Ieti David Mageo,Angelina Janae Dibella, Ietitaia Tavita Nuusila, Marsha Rae Finau, Lisa Rita Aiono and Ricky Ian Peace. The charges include counts of third degree felony riot, class A misdemeanor assault, first degree felony aggravated assault and first degree felony aggravated burglary. Nuusila is also charged with a class A misdemeanor of giving false personal information to a peace officer for giving the name of a 71-year-old Murray woman at the crime scene.
Hate crime charges have not been brought against any of the seven, because Utah’s hate crime law only applies to class B and C misdemeanors.
During Bell’s trial, it was revealed that a number of the seven charged had past criminal records. In 2008, Latu told the Deseret News that she and her friends and family “regret beating them [Bell and Fair] up as badly as we did.”
“But we don’t feel bad, because what if it [had turned into] another case of murdered children?” she continued.
As of March 9, Latu, Mageo, Finau and Dibella had presented themselves to law enforcement officers and posted bond, said Mark Biljanic, Director of Communications for District Attorney’s office. As of that date, he said that Nuusila, Peace and Aiono still had not come forward.
“Where they are, whether they’re in the state of Utah or outside the state or, for that matter, even outside the country we don’t know at this time,” he said. “We’re looking [for them] and when we make contact, we’ll take them into custody and they’ll go through the process like the rest.”
In a March 5 blog post to the Web site Injustice801.com, a site set up by Bell and Fair’s friends in 2008 to raise awareness of Bell’s situation, Bell said that the four’s bonding out had left him “a crying wreck.”
“I had to spend SIX WEEKS in a cold, friendless, and miserable place [jail], torn from everything I knew and everyone I loved before my family could get the money together to get me out,” he wrote.
“These evil people have had nearly two years to prepare for this, and prepared they were, obviously! They’ve already bonded out,” he continued. “This is why I am so angry at the South Salt Lake police department and the DA’s office. They waited too long and now our would-be killers are out to do more damage to society before their trial, which will probably also be postponed as far out as possible.”
Latu, Mageo, Finau and Dibella are scheduled to appear for formal charges March 26 at 9 a.m. in Room S 31 at the Matheson Courthouse, 450 S. State St. At press time a judge had not been named.