ELKO – A hearing to remove one of the charges against Bryce Dickey was conducted in Elko District Court on Wednesday.
Nearly a year since Gabrielle “Britney” Ujlaky was found dead, Dickey appeared in court before Judge Al Kacin on a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the sufficiency of evidence from his preliminary hearing almost a year ago.
Kacin will issue a ruling on the matter “sometime in the future,” said Elko District Attorney Tyler Ingram.
Filed on June 9 by Dickey’s defense counsel, attorney Gary Woodbury and Public Defender Matthew Pennell, the writ argues there was “insufficient evidence” of Dickey sexually assaulting Gabrielle “Britney” Ujlaky presented during their client’s preliminary hearing in Elko Justice Court on April 7 and 8.
“Petitioner contends as well, there is also insufficient evidence to support a probable cause finding that the sexual relations between he and Ms. Ujlaky were involved in her killing,” the document states.
The argument continues that the “Petitioner asserts that the State failed to present any evidence to prove either directly or by a reasonable inference that a sexual assault occurred. The State did not present an argument at the Preliminary Hearing setting out its theory of how it had proved sexual assault.”
Dickey, however, does admit he and Ujlaky had intercourse on March 8 in the area where his body was found “but had lied to law enforcement” before admitting it, the document goes on to state.
Witneses recall the last day of Gabrielle "Britney" Ujlaky's life.
Ingram responded to the petition in a document filed on Dec. 29, arguing that although Dickey was challenging the one count of sexual assault with the use of a deadly weapon, the defendant “did not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence as it relates to Open Murder.”
“The State respectfully disagrees and submits that the Elko Justice Court was in the best position to weigh the evidence presented, including having the opportunity to observe witnesses in the courtroom, and made the appropriate findings,” Ingram wrote.
“Importantly, there is not a heightened level of proof at preliminary hearing simply because the Defendant is charged with the most serious and heinous crimes,” he continued.
Ingram referred to Dickey’s writ, stating, “Notably, it doesn’t say falsely charged with sexual assault, murder or both. That’s because there is no motivation to lie about consensual sex in Dickey’s situation.”
Woodbury’s reply to Ingram filed on Jan. 4 restated his client’s argument that if there is direct or circumstantial evidence found of sexual assault having occurred, there is no evidence showing it had occurred as part of her being killed.
Ujlaky was reported missing on March 8. Her body was discovered in Burner Basin three days later.
Dickey pleaded not guilty in Elko District Court on June 5 before Judge Nancy Porter.
Kacin presided over the writ of habeas corpus hearing after Elko District Judges Kriston Hill and Mason Simons recused themselves last month.
In separate court documents, Hill and Simons each cited their previous involvement in Dickey’s case last year – Hill as the Public Defender, and Simons as the Justice of the Peace who bound over Dickey on April 8.
Ingram has reserved the death penalty for Dickey.