SALT LAKE CITY — Alecia Sherman lived long enough to seek out help, to run to a neighbor's house and tell them that her boyfriend was "out of control" and had hit her.
When paramedics arrived at her home on Dec. 15, her face was swollen and her lip was split, but she knew her name and where she was, paramedic Steven Roberson testified in 3rd District Court Tuesday.
"She said she was beaten up by her boyfriend," Roberson said, explaining the woman was so nervous that he knelt to look her in the eyes and tell her he was there to help. "She was obviously frightened and terrified. She was breathing pretty heavily and quick."
Four days later she died from the injuries she had sustained that night.
Sherman's boyfriend, Daniel Jay Folsom, 50, was ordered Tuesday to stand trial for murder, a first-degree felony, in Sherman's death. The couple had apparently been together for more than a decade.
Friends, family and neighbors suspected abuse, but either never saw physical evidence or said Sherman hid it from them. Earlier this year, Sherman's friend of 16 years, Annette Winward, spoke about the relationship's troubles.
"I just don't understand how anybody could do that to another human being, and proclaim that you love her," Winward said. "When (Sherman) left (Folsom) clear back in 2009, he called her everyday begging her to come back. 'I promise I'll go to counseling, I'll get off the drugs. I will quit drinking.' So she came back and this was the result."
In court Tuesday, Roberson said he asked Sherman how long the beating lasted that night in December and was told "a long time." Sherman was initially alert and sensitive to small things, like a stethoscope on her skin. But that changed during the short trip to the hospital, the paramedic said.
When they went to take her into the hospital, she opened her eyes. Although they had been alert and focused minutes before, they were now pointing in completely different directions. Roberson said it was evidence of a brain injury.
"We knew things were going bad," he said.
Sherman underwent two separate brain surgeries before she died on Dec. 19. Dr. Eric Christensen of the state medical examiner's office said the injuries to the woman's head caused her death.
Defense attorney Robert Breeze asked whether a fall could have caused the fatal injury. Christensen said it was possible. But he also said he deemed the death a homicide because the "totality of the injuries" made him believe it wasn't an accident.
When police arrived at the scene, Folsom answered the door of the home he shared with Sherman. Murray police officer Dale Rodeback testified that he "noticed large spots of what appeared to be blood on his clothing."
The officer also saw injuries on Folsom's face. He asked Folsom what had happened.
"He stated he had eaten a hamburger," Rodeback said.
"Did that make sense to you?" Breeze later asked
"Not at all," Rodeback said. "It was coherent. I thought he was just being a smart aleck."
He noted that Folsom had an "intoxicated demeanor." A blood draw hours later would show a blood alcohol level of .09.
Folsom said repeatedly in police interviews that he did not recall what happened that night, Murray police detective Mike Walker testified. He noted that sometime later, Folsom's "story would change and he said he could remember certain things."
Breeze called two defense witnesses, including a friend of Folsom who said the two were drinking that day from about 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. He estimated they each had five or six beers and several shots of whiskey.Comment on this story
Breeze sought to admit a toxicologist's report estimating that Folsom's blood alcohol level at the time of the beating was at least 0.2. The legal limit for driving in Utah is 0.08. He said the toxicologist indicated that someone that intoxicated could go into a stupor or even a coma. Because of his client's intoxication level, he asked that the charge be reduced to manslaughter.
"There's just no evidence of intent," he argued.
Prosecutor Bernadette Gomez countered that "intent is implied by the injuries."
Judge Judith Atherton found the evidence was sufficient to support the murder charge. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7.