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Prominent attorney Steven Killpack injured in stabbing

Published: Thursday, July 5 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake police officers work at the scene of a stabbing at a house on the corner of 1200 East and 200 South in Salt Lake City Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Prominent Utah defense attorney Steven Killpack was hospitalized Thursday after suffering stab wounds in his own neighborhood.

The man accused of stabbing Killpack, 63, claims he was attacked first. But police only arrested one person Thursday.

Matthew Christopher Wall, 28, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of felony attempted murder. He said he was invited into Killpack's house, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report, after apparently sleeping on his balcony.

Wall said "the old man was mad at him because he (Mr. Matthew Wall) had messed with his paintings," the report states. "Mr. Wall said the old man had tried to cut his (Mr. Wall's) neck with a large knife and a small knife and he (Mr. Matthew Wall) fought with the old man."

Wall would not tell police how Killpack was injured, according to investigators.

After being stabbed numerous times in the chest, Killpack walked about half a block looking for help. Neighbors say he went to the door of a nearby residence, leaving a trail of blood, trying to find someone home.

One woman said she didn't recognize Killpack because he was bleeding so badly.

"Honestly, no one recognized who he was," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified. "I said, 'Do any of us know who this is?' And he kind of weakly, but with exasperation, said, 'It's Steve.'"

Killpack was stabbed at his home about 8:20 a.m. near 200 South and 1200 East.

"Come outside really quick, there's an emergency," a neighbor recalled her husband telling her. "Our neighbor was on the next door neighbor's lawn, covered in blood."

Killpack was taken to University Hospital in very serious condition, but was later upgraded to fair condition.

"We understand from his family he is now in stable condition," said Kathy Nester, head of the Utah Federal Defenders Office. "We are very concerned and wish him a speedy recovery. ... Everyone here was very shocked and devastated to hear what had happened."

Killpack headed the Federal Defenders Office for more than a decade before moving into private practice a year ago. Killpack was also the elected Utah County attorney from 1986 to 1993.

When officers arrived in the neighborhood shortly after the incident, witnesses pointed out another man down the street who they said had blood on him.

A possible motive was still being investigated, according to detectives.

"I sure as heck hope it's a random event and not premeditated in any way. It's a shock because we've never had anything like this in the years we've lived here," the neighbor said.

Killpack worked with the Utah County Public Defenders Association before helping establish the Federal Public Defenders Office.

Killpack also assisted in Brian David Mitchell's federal court proceedings. Mitchell was convicted of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. Killpack represented Mitchell in the pretrial and mental evaluation phases of the trial and after Mitchell's conviction and sentencing. He has also worked on many other high-profile cases, including the Ron Lafferty case.

Wall was convicted in 2003 of forgery and theft by receiving stolen property, retail theft in 2011 as well as attempted burglary and theft by receiving stolen property in a separate case, according to state court records. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in 3rd District Court last month.

Contributing: Andrew Adams

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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