Ex-BYU professor let killers in his home, prosecutors tell jury
It was a 'scary situation,' said daughter-in-law once wrongly charged in the death
AMERICAN FORK — The video showed a home that was largely undisturbed. There were drawers and gun lockers left untouched. None of the doors showed anything to suggest a forced entry.
There was meat on a countertop grill in the kitchen, uncooked but seasoned, said Utah County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Brower. The home did not appear to have been ransacked.
The scene didn't seem to support the reports of a home invasion. It belied the bloody scene in the upstairs bathroom, where Kay Mortensen had been killed.
Wednesday marked the first day of the trial against Martin Cameron Bond, 25, who is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and three counts of aggravated kidnapping, all first-degree felonies, in Mortensen's death
Prosecutor Tim Taylor told a jury Wednesday that the reason Mortensen's home looked the way it did is because there wasn't much of a struggle. Mortensen was in the middle of cooking his dinner on Nov. 16, 2009, when he heard a knock at the door. He let the visitor inside his home.
"The reason that Kay let this person into the house is because he knew him," Taylor said. "He knew Martin Bond. Martin Bond had been to his house before. Martin Bond's father and Kay were extremely good friends. Under the guise of friendship, Martin Bond got into the house."
He said Bond let his friend, Benjamin Rettig, into the home. They threatened Mortensen with a gun, and he escorted them to an outside bunker where he kept some of his weapons. Taylor said Mortensen didn't put up a fight, he just opened the door. But before Bond and Rettig took anything, they escorted Mortensen back into his home and into an upstairs bathroom, where they had him kneel on the ground over the bathtub.
Taylor said Bond went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife, returned to the bathroom and repeatedly slashed Mortensen's throat.
"When you hear the facts of his case, it will almost sound like a crime novel at times, but it isn't fiction," Taylor said.
Soon after Mortensen was killed, there was another knock at the door. Roger and Pamela Mortensen had gone to Kay Mortensen's home that same night to deliver a pecan pie.
It was the retired BYU professor's favorite kind, and they knew he and his wife were leaving town the next day, Pamela Mortensen testified Wednesday. When they arrived at his home in Payson Canyon, they saw a car they didn't recognize and figured Mortensen had guests.
They knocked on the door and a 20-something man answered. Pamela Mortensen recalled that her in-laws had discussed problems with the Internet or getting new carpets.
"I just assumed they were working on the Internet or looking at carpet," she said. "They did not have ski masks on, did not look like anybody scary. They looked like regular people. I was not scared nor did I think anything of it."
They were told Kay Mortensen was upstairs. Pamela went for the stairs and the men told her to come back, she said. It was then she realized that one of them — Bond — was holding a gun.
She and her husband were then tied up with zip ties, she testified. The two men took their cellphones and Roger Mortensen's identification.
"It was a very scary situation because I did not know if I was going to make it out of the house that night or if my husband was going to make it out of the house that night," Pamela Mortensen said.
Bond did most of the talking, she said, and seemed to be in charge. But it was Rettig who told them Kay Mortensen was upstairs, also tied up.
Before the men left, she said they told her and her husband to tell police that three black men had been inside the home. They said they had her husband's identification and their address and threatened to come to their home if they told police anything else.
"We were told they were doing this for their families," Pamela Mortensen testified.
Defense attorney Stephen Howard told the jury that Bond was a former member of the Air Force undergoing a divorce and going to school as a single father at the time of the crime. Howard said Bond went to visit Rettig in Vernal and they started talking about emergency preparedness, leading to talk of guns and Bond recounted seeing Kay Mortensen's gun collection.
Howard said Rettig latched onto that. "Ben Rettig kept talking about going to Kay Mortensen's house to steal the guns," Howard said.
The attorney said his client agreed to go to Payson with Rettig on the condition that they would only take the guns if Kay Mortensen was not home and that if Mortensen was home, they would just say hello and leave.
"It was stupid, something he never should have done, but that's where this idea started," Howard told jurors.
Months later, when the case was still unsolved, Roger and Pamela Mortensen would be indicted by a grand jury for the death of Kay Mortensen. Brower said part of the reason for this was because of the inconsistencies in their stories and the lack of any forced entry or other evidence of a home invasion.
They were released from jail after investigators were tipped off by Bond's ex-wife, Rachel Bingham, who testified that she once helped Bond move the guns and that Bond told her that he and Rettig had taken the guns from Mortensen's home.
"(Bond) said that him and his friend, Ben, drove up to Payson to Kay Mortensen's, which he knew from childhood, and that he entered Kay's home and took his life and took Kay's guns," Bingham said, noting that Bond said it was Rettig who actually killed Kay Mortensen.
She said she had heard about Roger and Pamela Mortensen being charged with Kay Mortensen's death, but didn't realize they were still in jail until talking to her then-boyfriend, Peter Smith.
"He helped me see what was going on with the Mortensens, that they were wrongly being accused and just telling him, I could see how bad everything really was and that it needed to be told, no matter how scared I was," Bingham said.
Pamela Mortensen recalled being given a photo lineup that included a picture of Bond just before she and her husband were released from custody. She said she immediately pointed to Bond.
"I recognized his eyes and his face and I was sure that he was one of the people there that night," Pamela Mortensen said.
She did not identify Rettig, who was in another photo lineup she was shown. She and her husband were released from jail the next day and all charges against them were dropped.
Utah County sheriff's detective Zach Adams said he used and verified the information from Bingham to obtain a search warrant, which he served at Bond's Vernal home. He said he found firearms belonging to Kay Mortensen in the home, most of which had the serial number removed but at least one still had a serial number, showing it was registered to Kay Mortensen.
Bingham's ex-boyfriend, Smith, took the stand Wednesday. He recalled encouraging her to go to police. He testified that he, too, knew Bond through some mutual friend.
"Martin liked to talk about guns, how to use those guns," Smith said. "Those were the things we pretty much always talked about was guns and how to commit murders. … He would talk about slicing throats, because that's how he would do it."
Defense attorney Rudy Bautista questioned why Smith didn't mention these conversations to police. He also questioned whether Smith was sober during the one conversation of which defense attorneys were aware.
"I was drunk enough that I should not have been driving, but not drunk enough that I wasn't coherent," Smith said.
The trial is scheduled to continue through Jan. 24. Though Bond once faced the death penalty, an agreement was reached recently that made life without the possibility of parole the only possible sentence if Bond is convicted.
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