Teacher accused in teen sex case opts for preliminary hearing

Emili Kay Daniels

Emili Kay Daniels

Emili Kay Daniels sat in the Verde Valley Superior Court Division-3 Thursday waiting for her early disposition court hearing before Judge Tina Ainley.

The 34-year-old biology teacher accused of sexual conduct with a 17-year-old charter school student was dressed conservatively in a green long-sleeved blouse and black pants. Through her glasses she read every word of the paperwork detailing the three felony charges against her.

She spoke at length with her public defender and with a probation officer before she appeared before the judge.

A defendant in an early disposition court hearing is given the option to waive a preliminary hearing and move the case onto trial, or to accept a plea offer and plead guilty to charges.

Daniels chose not to waive the preliminary hearing, as do most defendants in the EDC. Judge Ainley set a preliminary hearing for Friday, March 13.

A preliminary hearing allows a judge to listen to preliminary evidence and determine if there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Ainley also advised that the preliminary hearing does not necessarily mean that a grand jury indictment will not be handed down.

The victim's guardians were in the courtroom during the hearing. They asked that the accused have no contact with the teen. The judge made that order.

According to police, th principal at American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood unlocked the teacher's classroom door and found Daniels and a 17-year-old student near her desk. The boy's pants were undone and his underwear was exposed.

She was immediately terminated and sheriff's deputies were called. The student is still enrolled in the school, but no other information is available.

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