Trial begins for man charged with murder in Capitol Hill stabbing death

Published: Wednesday, June 12 2013 5:40 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The officer said Kaleb Yazzie was still alive when he found him in an alley near Girard Avenue around 2 a.m. after a July night party gone bad.

He wouldn't say what happened to him, he just kept asking for help, Salt Lake City police officer Peter Sauers testified in 3rd District Court Wednesday. Prosecutor George Vo-Duc said Yazzie, 22, would be pronounced dead within two hours.

The officer's testimony came in the first day of the trial of Adam Karr, 27, charged with murder and obstructing justice in Yazzie's death. Vo-Duc said Yazzie was attending a party at the home Karr shared with his brother when his actions, described as "disrespectful" and "obnoxious," prompted the brothers to ask him to leave.

"(Karr) feels disrespected," Vo-Duc said. "He feels his brother was disrespected, feels that his home was disrespected … Adam Karr has had enough."

The prosecutor said Karr stabbed Yazzie several times, causing his death.

Defense attorney Richard Mauro asked the eight-person jury to keep in mind during the trial that the events that took place July 31 happened at Karr's home. He said homes are a place of safety and protection.

He said the party started well until "something really strange starts happening. … Everybody is having a good time except for one person — Kaleb Yazzie" who Mauro said was talking about being a knife fighter, showing off mixed martial arts moves, flashing gang signs and threatening both Adam Karr and his younger brother, Ammon.

Jacob French said he was staying at the Karr brothers' home at 31 Girard Ave. during an extended visit from his native Texas. French said he came to Utah with Stephen Thomason, the Karrs' then-17-year-old cousin, a friend from Texas.

French wasn't drinking the night of the party, but others were and Thomason eventually told him someone was really drunk and "acting pretty crazy."

French said other party attendees tried to get Yazzie to calm down and apologize to the Karr brothers, but when Yazzie refused he was asked to leave. Yazzie returned looking for some liquor he had brought to the party. Ammon Karr said he would retrieve the alcohol from upstairs and French said Yazzie started talking about fighting Ammon Karr, following him upstairs.

"As Kaleb goes upstairs … Adam says, 'I'm going to shank this kid,' then he grabs a knife," French testified, describing the knife as a little pocket knife with a yellow handle.

By the time French makes his way upstairs he can see everyone else at the party on the porch of the home, while Adam Karr is "swinging on" Yazzie. The violence stops and French asks Adam Karr if he stabbed Yazzie. Karr said Yazzie fell on a broken glass bottle.

Yazzie collapsed in the front yard and French said Thomason started dragging Yazzie into an alley near the home while yelling at Yazzie that he had told him not to mess with his cousins. When Thomason returns, he tells the Karr brothers and French that he kicked Yazzie in the head.

Thomason, Adam Karr and Ammon Karr then start changing clothes and trying to clean up the blood on them, with the Karrs putting their bloody shirts and the knife in a nylon drawstring bag. Vo-Duc said the bag was hidden in a bush near a home in the neighborhood.

Ammon Karr and Thomason were also charged in connection with Yazzie's death. Ammon Karr pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony, and was given credit for the 160 days he had already served in jail, but was ordered to spend 90 days in home confinement to be followed by followed by three years of probation. He was also sentenced to counseling and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

Thomason pleaded no contest in juvenile court to manslaughter. He will be under state jurisdiction until he is 21.

Adam Karr's trial is expected to continue through Friday.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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