Judge binds Heffelfingers over for trial in murder case
The subjects of a massive manhunt last October in the Carbon area will be tried on capital murder charges and face the death penalty in a Daggett County case.
On Sept. 6, the 8th District Court ruled the preliminary hearing evidence sufficient to show probable cause Lewis Heffelfinger and Michael Heffelfinger committed the double murder crimes in Daggett County.
In a courtroom packed with family members of the alleged victims, Daggett County Attorney Dennis Judd and fellow prosecutor Creighton Horton questioned Sage McCormick, the hunting companion of the two dead men.
Additional witnessed called by the prosecution to testify at the preliminary hearing witnesses included two deputies from the Daggett County sheriff's department, Mark Watkins and Ray Ruble, as well as Helper Police Officer Kent Allred.
Following the witness testimony, 8th District Court Judge John R. Anderson bound the father and son duo over to stand trial on all charges contained in the Daggett County murder complaint.
The father and son co-defendants entered not guilty pleas at arraignment on Sept. 6, but the court did not schedule a trial date in the death penalty capital murder case.
The Heffelfingers were represented at the preliminary hearing by Salt Lake defense attorneys Ed Brass, Ken Brown, Virginia Ramos-Smith and Ann Girot.
Acting on behalf of the prosecution at the criminal proceeding were Judd along with Kirk Torgeson, Horton and Polly Samuels, legal representatives from the Utah Attorney Gen-eral's Office.
Last Friday's preliminary hearing was the first time the evidence collected against the defendants had been presented in open court, indicated Judd.
The state prosecutors met privately with the families of the victims before and after the criminal proceeding.
The attorneys serving on the prosecution team are glad to have the preliminary hearing in the capital murder complaint successfully completed, noted Judd.
After expressing sympathy to the survivors of the two alleged murder victims, Judd voiced appreciation to the the prosecution team as well as the law enforcement authorities and criminal investigators who worked to collect the evidence in the case.
In addition, the Daggett attorney reaffirmed the prosecution's intent to seek the imposition of the death penalty in the murder complaint filed against the Heffelfingers.
The capital murder charges stem from an alleged incident in the Dutch John area on Oct. 21, 2001. The two victims were found shot to death by a hunting companion.
The pickup truck belonging to one victim was reported missing and the vehicle in question was recovered that evening in Carbon County after a high speed chase.
Carbon County law enforcement agencies launched a massive manhunt to locate the suspects after the father-son duo wrecked the pickup in Price and fled the scene on foot.
On Oct. 23, Carbon County authorities arrested the Heffel-fingers and charged the suspects with attempted aggravated murder arising out of shots fired at local law enforcement officers during the high-speed chase.
After the defendants entered guilty pleas to amended lesser included felony level criminal charges in the Carbon County case, the 7th District Court sentenced the Heffelfingers to indeterminate terms in the Utah State Prison.
The 7th District Court ordered immediate execution of the prison sentences and remanded the Albuquerque, N.M., residents into the custody of the Carbon County Sheriff's Office for transport to the state correctional facility.
Following the 7th District Court convictions, Judd filed the capital murder complaint in connection with the shooting incident in Daggett County.
The defendants are charged with two counts of capital homicide and two separate aggravated robbery offenses, confirmed the Daggett County attorney.
Lewis Heffelfinger is also charged with an additional failure to respond to a law enforcement officer's command to stop (felony evasion) count, concluded Judd.