PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The charges against the suspect arrested for the death of 19-year-old Kiera Bergman have been dismissed without prejudice.
Jon Christopher Clark was arrested in 2018 after Bergman's body was found near State Route 85 in Buckeye. He plead not guilty to second-degree murder charge.
According to paperwork from the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County the court found a dismissal without prejudice due to the State's failure to disclosure Silent Witness records, it appears the prosecution rushed toward an indictment without having completed expert witness analysis.
“I was in shock. How can the system be so messed up for them to allow this to happen?" said Bergman's sister Braydee Bragg. ”In a case like this where someone has lost their family member there’s no room to make mistakes like that."
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office released a statement regarding the ruling: "The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is aware of the ruling by the judge in this matter.The dismissal is without prejudice, which allows prosecutors to refile charges against Jon-Christopher Clark for the death of Kiera Bergman, if there is sufficient evidence to do so.
The prosecutors in this case acted in good faith throughout the process and complied with all disclosure obligations.This is an extremely complicated case with complex disclosure issues. Moving forward, we will be reviewing the available and admissible evidence and will then determine whether it is appropriate to re-file charges in this matter. We hope to make that decision in the coming days or weeks. Our primary goal is to seek justice for Kiera Bergman and her family."
Criminal justice attorney Jason Lamm, who is not affiliated with the case, said if this happens at all, it's better to happen now as opposed to after a trial.
"When a case comes into the system, everyone assumes that it’s been thoroughly and properly investigated. In this case, it would appear that there was a rush to judgment and a lot of important details were missed," Lamm said. "It's really better to get it right now, as painful as it may be, than for this to happen years alter. It would be exponentially worse for everyone."
Kiera's sister had a message for Clark, who she believes took Bergman away from their family.
“Jon, if you’re watching this, admit what you did. Stop putting us through hell. It’s not fair. You know what you did. give us closure. Give my sister closure," she said.
Here is the ruling by the Superior Court: "As to the latter issue, the Court finds that a dismissal without prejudice is the most appropriate sanction associated with the State’s failure to disclose the Silent Witness records in accordance with Rule 15.1(b)(8), Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. This sanction is necessary and proportional to the harm caused, especially where it appears that the prosecution (1) rushed toward an indictment without having completed its crucial expert witness analysis; (2) failed to make a full accounting of the existence of potentially exculpatory records; and (3) failed to investigate any potentially exculpatory leads in a timely manner. See, e.g., State v. Naranjo, 234 Ariz. 233, 242, 321 P.3d 398, 407 (2014).
As part of the Court’s additional sanctions, the Court hereby requires the prosecution to present specific evidence in any new determination of probable cause. This includes required testimony regarding (1) the date(s), time(s), and aggregate amount of anonymous reports (in the government’s possession) pertaining to the whereabouts of Kiera Bergman; (2) the substance pertaining to all of those anonymously-provided records;14 (3) clarification that none of the anonymous tips specifically identified the Defendant or attributed any misconduct to the Defendant whatsoever; and (4) law enforcement’s failure to investigate the vast majority of these tips during the August-September 2018 timeframe."