AMERICAN FORK — With his hands zip tied behind his back, retired BYU professor Kay Mortensen was forced to kneel down in his bathroom with his head hanging over his tub.
"He described him as calm, serene and ready," Utah County sheriff's detective Zach Adams recounted in court Monday.
Moments later, Mortensen's throat was slashed and an additional stab wound was made in the back of his neck. When Mortensen's body was found, he was still on his knees with his head dropped down into the tub.
That chilling account of Kay Mortensen's final moments was how Martin Cameron Bond — one of two men accused of murdering the retired BYU professor — recounted the events of that evening to investigators.
Each defendant claims it was the other who slit the professor's throat.
On Monday, 4th District Judge Thomas Low found there was enough evidence to order Bond, 24, to stand trial on an amended six charges in connection with the death of Mortensen and the kidnapping and robbery of Pamela and Roger Mortensen.
Bond and Benjamin David Rettig are accused of killing Kay Mortensen in his home on Nov. 16, 2009, while stealing a large cache of firearms. Rettig pleaded guilty to capital murder in June but has since indicated he wants to withdraw his guilty plea, although no official motion had been filed as of Monday. New attorneys have been appointed for Rettig since his plea was entered.
Bond and Retting weren't charged with the crime until more than a year after it happened. For more than four months, Mortensen's son and daughter-in-law, Roger and Pamela Mortensen, sat in jail accused by prosecutors of the crime.
On Monday, Pamela Mortensen testified for those same prosecutors about being tied up at gunpoint the night Kay Mortensen was killed in his Payson home.
Pamela Mortensen said she and her husband were dropping off a pie. When they knocked on the door, Bond answered. Kay Mortensen was reportedly killed just moments before she and her husband arrived, according to police.
"The person (who answered the door) didn't look scary or anything to me," she testified. "They didn't look weird. They looked clean cut."
As the Mortensens entered the home and Pamela started going up the stairs to see her father-in-law, Bond pulled out a gun and told her to come back down, she testified. The intruders tied the couple's hands and ankles with zip-ties and forced them to kneel in the living room. The two men also took their cell phones.
Pamela Mortensen testified that the men threatened to come after them and harm them and their families if they didn't tell authorities that three black men were the ones responsible. That was the story they initially told police. Utah County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Brower said it wasn't until 24 hours later that Pamela Mortensen told detectives it was really two young white men who committed the crime.
After Monday's hearing, Darla Mortensen said her husband's death and the subsequent arrests of Pamela and Roger Mortensen have been extremely difficult for her family and have left scars.
"I felt sorry for Pamela. I'm sure (testifying) was tough for her," Darla Mortensen said.
Rettig and Bond, both of Vernal, were charged in connection with Mortensen's death in early December 2010, after a tip was received about the location of several of the weapons stolen during the killing. Monday, it was revealed that the tip came from Bond's ex-wife, Rachel Bingham, who said Bond confessed to her what had happened. She later contacted authorities.
"She said she didn't want the wrong people convicted if they're not involved," Brower said.
When Bingham first called, she told Brower "she had first-hand knowledge of the murder. Rachel had information that was very specific that hadn't been out in the media," he said.
Bingham told Adams that Bond had told her Mortensen did not struggle or fight before he was killed and that is was Rettig who slit his throat. But she also told investigators that Bond "was the more dangerous one," Brower said.
Adams testified that Bond gave a "very detailed" description of how Rettig allegedly killed Mortensen. When asked why Mortensen was killed, Bond told the officer, "He wasn't sure. (Rettig) felt like he just had to die."
But Rettig reportedly was ready to testify as part of his plea deal that it was Bond who committed the killing. Because of his desire to withdraw his plea, prosecutors did not call him to the witness stand Monday. They did, however, submit a previously written statement from Rettig describing the crime.
Outside the courtroom, Darla Mortensen said she believed both defendants are equally culpable. "No matter which one did the actual killing, they both need to be penalized," she said. "It was senseless. It destroyed lots of lives."
Utah County deputy district attorney Tim Taylor, however, said he is "very confident" that Bond committed the murder.
"We definitely think it fits more his personality," he said. "This is still a death penalty case."
Defense attorney Ron Yengich questioned how Bond was picked out of photo lineup when Pam Mortensen originally said she couldn't recall the different characteristics between the two defendants. Questions were raised about how the photos were presented to the defendants.
It was noted that Rettig was never picked out of a photo lineup. Roger Mortensen, authorities said, refused to participate in looking at a photo lineup after he had been arrested.
After the slaying, Rettig reportedly did not want to have anything to do with Bond. Police testified Monday that Rettig did not want any of the weapons they had just stolen.
"Ben didn't want anything to do with this after they got back to Vernal," Adams testified. He said Bond also told him: '"He left me holding the bag."'
Adams served the search warrant at Bond's Vernal home. A trash bag with four handguns that Adams knew belonged to Mortensen was found in the home. Three additional rifles were found in a bedroom.2 comments on this story
At that point, Bond told the detective, "I know it looks bad," but tried to explain that he bought the weapons at a gun show, Adams said.
Later, however, Bond allegedly confessed. He said he and Rettig were hurting for money and Bond's father was a friend of Mortensen. Bond had been in Mortensen's house before and knew of his weapons cache. The two devised a plan to rob Mortensen but had no intention of killing him, according to Adams.