Bugman trial canceled, plea possible

Oct 7 2011 - 11:12pm

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(Standard-Examiner file photo) Coleman Nocks, 64, of Bountiful, leaves an arraignment hearing in 2nd District Court in Layton in June 2010. He and the company he worked for, Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., are charged in connection with the February 2010 deaths of Layton sisters Rebecca and Rachel Toone after, officials say, pesticide was incorrectly applied.
(Standard-Examiner file photo) Coleman Nocks, 64, of Bountiful, leaves an arraignment hearing in 2nd District Court in Layton in June 2010. He and the company he worked for, Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., are charged in connection with the February 2010 deaths of Layton sisters Rebecca and Rachel Toone after, officials say, pesticide was incorrectly applied.
Rachel Toone, 15 months
Rebecca Toone, 5
(Standard-Examiner file photo) Coleman Nocks, 64, of Bountiful, leaves an arraignment hearing in 2nd District Court in Layton in June 2010. He and the company he worked for, Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., are charged in connection with the February 2010 deaths of Layton sisters Rebecca and Rachel Toone after, officials say, pesticide was incorrectly applied.
(Standard-Examiner file photo) Coleman Nocks, 64, of Bountiful, leaves an arraignment hearing in 2nd District Court in Layton in June 2010. He and the company he worked for, Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., are charged in connection with the February 2010 deaths of Layton sisters Rebecca and Rachel Toone after, officials say, pesticide was incorrectly applied.
Rachel Toone, 15 months
Rebecca Toone, 5

SALT LAKE CITY -- A change-of-plea hearing for the man and the company accused of using a pesticide inconsistent with its labeling is set for Tuesday.

A three-day federal jury trial, which was scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court, has been canceled, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Coleman Nocks, 64, of Bountiful, and Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., are each charged with three class A misdemeanor counts of violating the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. They pleaded not guilty in April.

One of those counts is for the use of the pesticide Fumitoxin on Feb. 5, 2010, in Layton.

Both Nocks and the company, based in Bountiful, are charged with using Fumitoxin in a burrow system within 15 feet of a building, exceeding the dosage requirements and applying the pesticide when the temperature was below 41 degrees, according to court documents.

On Feb. 5, 2010, Rebecca Toone, 5, and her sister, Rachel, 15 months, were exposed to the pesticide, officials said. The girls died three days apart of each other shortly after the Fumitoxin was applied near their home.

The medical examiner's reports indicated the two girls had "elevated phosphorous levels and lung damage consistent with inhaling a harmful substance."

The Toone family declined to comment at this time on the announcement of a plea hearing.

It was the second time Nocks had been to the Toone home to deal with field mice, officials said. Fumitoxin is a potent pesticide used to control cigarette weevils in tobacco and all kinds of pests, including rodents, in grain crops.

The Environmental Protection Agency has since banned the residential use of Fumitoxin.

Nocks faces up to a $100,000 fine per count. However, if the judge, at the time of sentencing, rules the deaths were caused by misapplied pesticide, the penalty could change to one year in prison and a $250,000 fine per count.

Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc., faces a fine of $200,000 on each count if convicted for its role, and the fine would also change to $500,000 per count if the deaths were considered in the sentencing.

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