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Murder charge: Fatal DUI crash was no accident, D.A. says

Published: Monday, May 19 2014 5:52 p.m. MDT

DRAPER — A man accused of causing a fatal traffic accident during a drunken rampage was charged with murder Monday along with 14 other charges.

Bill Robert Thompson, 44, is accused of running a red light at Lone Peak Parkway and 12300 South on May 8, causing a seven-car accident. Susan Madsen, 43, was killed in the crash.

On Monday, Thompson was charged in 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony; DUI and two counts of aggravated assault, third-degree felonies; seven counts of DUI, a class A misdemeanor; and two counts of assault and two counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child, class B misdemeanors.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said what Thompson did went beyond a regular DUI or vehicular homicide accident. Thompson acted with "depraved indifference" and needed to be charged with murder, he said.

"What we're arguing is that he was consciously making a decision to accelerate into an intersection, which was red, and he knew there was traffic there. Our position is he acted with such depraved indifference, he intentionally set out to engage in that conduct," Gill said. "This is not an accident that happened."

When Thompson entered the intersection where the fatal crash occurred, he was allegedly traveling at 60 mph. He pushed his gas pedal "as far as it would go" when he was just 175 feet away from the intersection, the charges state.

In addition to Madsen's death, seven others were injured in the crash.

Prior to the accident, Thompson was involved in a physical altercation with his roommate. He punched the woman in the face multiple times, according to the charges. A neighbor who saw the assault attempted to intervene and was also punched in the face several times by Thompson, according to police.

The initial fight started with an argument over Thompson's drinking, investigators believe. Thompson "had been drinking for the last couple of days and was very intoxicated," charging documents state.

After he drove off from the domestic assault, Thompson went on the Bangerter Highway and onto Pony Express Road. When Thompson got to the end of the dead end road, a 16-year-old girl in a Mini Cooper stopped her car behind him to give him room to make a U-turn. Instead, Thompson drove his pickup truck into the driver's side door of the Mini Cooper and then laughed, according to the charges.

Gill said Thompson committed an act that was "clearly dangerous to human life."

A few minutes later, prosecutors believe, he caused the fatal accident.

"You take in the totality of the probable cause statement," Gill said. "It's a very unique set of circumstances. It is under these unique set of circumstances that our theory is of depraved indifference that he ought to be charged with murder."

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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