On Thursday afternoon, Noah Best was taken into custody following the jury’s decision that he is guilty of sexually assaulting a co-worker in his home in 2016.
The jury also found him guilty of two counts of obstruction of a criminal investigation when Best attempted to stop the victim and a witness from speaking with officers about the sexual assault.
During the trial, Best’s defense attorney Jason Lamm accepted the charges of obstructing a criminal investigation in court, and instead focused on pointing out the inconsistent testimony of the victim and witness.
“We had hoped the jury saw things differently than they did, but we have to respect the American judicial system and process,” Lamm said about the verdict. Lamm felt he was unable to comment on behalf of his client.
Coconino County Attorney Bill Ring spoke on behalf of prosecutor Ammon Barker, who worked to portray Best as guilty through the course of the trial utilizing victim and witness testimony.
“We thank the jury for their service and we are grateful for the victim’s courage. Trial work involves a careful process,” Ring said. “This trial ripened just in time for the bitter fruit to deliver sweet justice.”
The official length of his prison sentence will be determined by the judge at sentencing; however, the 47-year-old could serve a maximum sentence of 18 years.
Best will now be held in custody without bond until his sentencing hearing, set for March 8. Several continuances had held up Best’s trial after the crime occurred in 2016.
In court, Best admitted he committed the crime in aggravation, waiving court processes that would have asked the victim to return to the stand and the jury to determine whether he committed the act in aggravation.
Aggravation has various meanings according to the Arizona Revised Statutes, but can apply if the victim “suffered physical, emotional or financial harm” because of the defendant’s actions. Crimes committed in aggravation allow the judge the option to apply the most severe sentencing limit.
Lamm said he and his client had made the decision to avoid that part of the process.
“[The aggravation hearing] certainly entailed requiring the victim to take the stand again,” Lamm said. “We made a conscious decision not to put her through that.”
Ring did not see Best’s actions as genuine.
“There is no chivalry in it, only strategy,” Ring said, denying to comment further.
The judge is allowed to use his or her professional discretion to determine how long defendants should be placed in prison, and can weigh both aggravating and mitigating factors in their decision.
The victim in the case took to the stand to recount her telling of events during the trial.
She described her assault and was certain of Best’s guilt, a fact witness Christopher Green also testified to earlier last week.