‘Objection, m’lady!’: Defendant causes confusion in Utah courtoom

Posted at 10:05 PM, January 16, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY (Scripps News Salt Lake City) — Fugitive Nicholas Rossi caused immediate confusion Tuesday during his first Utah court appearance since being extradited to the U.S. after fleeing the country to avoid rape charges.

Nicholas Rossi speaks during a hearing

In this image taken from video, alleged U.S. fugitive Nicholas Rossi speaks during a hearing livestreamed on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Salt Lake City. During the court appearance, he denied being a man accused of faking his own death and fleeing the country to Europe to avoid rape charges. (KSTU via AP, Pool)

Rossi, whose legal name is Nicholas Alahverdian, was extradited from Scotland earlier this month, years after he allegedly faked his own death and fled to Europe. Rossi left the country after being identified as a suspect in a 2008 rape case in Orem.

He was arrested in Dec. 2021 after being recognized by someone at a Glasgow, Scotland hospital.

Appearing in a virtual hearing while wearing an oxygen mask and claiming his name is Arthur Knight, Judge Kimberly Hornak and others in the Third District Court courtroom had difficulty understanding Rossi due to him using a British accent.

In addition, Hornak was apparently unaware of Rossi’s background and was unsure if she had the correct defendant appearing on her screen. The state informed the judge that Rossi had not given his correct name or birthdate, and let her know that he had been extradited to Utah.

“Objection, m’lady!” Rossi replied. “That is complete hearsay and I would ask that your ladyship and prosecution show cause for why I am…” before being cut off by Hornak.

Rossi continued talking, but the judge ignored him and set up a detention hearing for Jan. 26 at 1 p.m., and ordered Rossi not to have any contact with the victim of the alleged crime.

As Rossi continued to interrupt, Hornak told him, “Mr. Knight, we’re finished.”

For years, Rossi has claimed that he’s really an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight and that he’d been framed by authorities who took his fingerprints while he was in a coma so they could connect him to Rossi. During previous court appearances overseas, Rossi has repeatedly arrived in a wheelchair using an oxygen mask and speaking in a British accent.

The 36-year-old also faces complaints of alleged domestic violence made against him in Rhode Island.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.