Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
HEBER CITY — The two bail bondsmen who found the body of Gregory Nathan Peterson Tuesday called the man's apparent suicide "a tragic situation."
"I feel sorry for his family," said Steve Brown, co-owner of All Out Bail Bonds of Utah, which posted Peterson's $2 million bail Friday. "We feel horrible about it. It's not the ending we wanted. It's not the way we wanted things to go."
Brown and co-owner Brian Cogburn found Peterson's body at the man's cabin at 10160 E. Ridge Pines Drive about 5 p.m. Tuesday. They had gone there to recharge the ankle monitor they required Peterson to wear as a condition of them posting the money.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officers said Tuesday that Peterson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His death came just four days after he posted $2 million bail, following three months in the Salt Lake County Jail. An autopsy was conducted Wednesday.
"It's horrible for anybody to have to go through this," Cogburn said.
Peterson, 37, was waiting to be tried on multiple charges of raping and assaulting women he met online or at LDS Church functions. On Tuesday, prior to the discovery of Peterson's body, the Wasatch County Attorney's Office filed a motion for a bail hearing on its case in 4th District Court.
"The defendant has filed a security in the Salt Lake County matters and is on release with no security in this matter," the state wrote in court documents. "The state therefore respectfully requests a bail hearing."
But the hearing will no longer be held as the cases against Peterson soon will be closed and those he came in contact with are left to draw their own conclusions about his life and actions.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat both have indicated they plan to file motions to dismiss their cases and officially bring the criminal prosecution of Peterson to an end.
The majority of bail bonding companies require clients to pay 10 percent of their bail before they will put up the rest of the bond money.
Brown would not comment specifically on the conditions of Peterson's release, including how much money Peterson put down or where his money may have come from. He said the information was confidential and it was inappropriate to talk about personal information of a client.
In July, Peterson filed a declaration of indigency with 3rd District Court. Such declarations typically are filed when a client has a lack of income or inability to pay for an attorney. Peterson, however, retained his own attorneys.
On his indigency declaration, he declined to provide information about his income. On the sheet, Peterson was asked to mark "yes" or "no" as to whether he had assets over $10,000. He marked "no."
All Out Bail Bonds' website states the company charges clients 10 percent of the bond. The company then puts up the rest of the money. A judge will hold the bail amount until the case is closed.
After the client has returned to court and an outcome in the case been determined, the bail bond company gets its money back. If the client fails to show up for court, however, they forfeit the money until such time that the client returns to court.
In the case of suicide, Salt Lake County Jail Sgt. Cammie Skogg said, she believes the criminal case is considered closed.
It's typical in cases with high bail that a bond company require some sort of collateral from the person wishing to bail out, Skogg said, though she did not know if that was the case with Peterson.
Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner did not know Tuesday whether any type of suicide note was left behind in Peterson's house. Skogg said evaluators at the jail did not see any signs of being a risk for self-harm.
Acquaintances of Peterson blame investigators and the media for pushing him to commit suicide. But several who knew the businessman and Republican activist or were familiar with him said they did not see any red flags that he would end up taking his own life.
Rob Joseph, a private investigator who said he had worked as security during one of the GOP fundraisers Peterson hosted at his cabin, said he received a private message from Peterson on Facebook on Saturday, the day after he bailed out of jail.
According to Joseph, the email stated: "Absolutely innocent. Unconstitutional witch hunt. … Just paid the unconstitutionally tripled bail bondsman $200,000. Stay tuned. God bless."
"We had communicated about investigating the alleged victims' backgrounds," Joseph said in an email. "The fact that Greg took his own life does not mean he was guilty of anything. Greg, I think, was tried in the court of public opinion and most likely felt there was no justice.
"I feel like investigators and the media played a role in the outcomes of the (Josh) Powell case and Peterson. Push a man so far that he has nowhere to go, no hope of justice, and he is likely to do what Greg Peterson and many others have chosen to do. Sad. This is not justice, and there is certainly nothing close to being given the opportunity of a fair trial," the email states.
On Peterson's Facebook page, dozens of friends and supporters expressed their condolences. One person said she had talked to Peterson the night before and he indicated he was fine.
Peterson changed his Facebook profile picture on Sunday. His last status update was written Sept. 24, a time when Peterson was incarcerated. The update stated: "To those who know me well, thank you for standing by me. I'm 100% innocent of these charges. The truth will reveal my innocence."
A second status update proclaimed "new developments" were being made in the case, and cautioned others not to "judge too quickly or you'll be regretting your assumptions."
It is believed that someone other that Peterson typed the Facebook updates.
In a prepared statement to the media late Tuesday, Peterson's attorneys, Jerry Salcido and Cara Tangaro, concurred that, "Greg felt an enormous pressure from the media and their one-sided and inaccurate reporting of this case which villainized him from day one."
In July, Tangaro declared her client "100 percent innocent."
The declarations ran counter to the testimony of four women who claimed in court testimony that they were sexually assaulted by Peterson, detailing the encounters that led to the rape and assault charges.
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