Audra Snider-Gerdin sobbed and trembled on the witness stand as she described being gagged, beaten with a gun, burned with cigarettes and then shot seven times while one of her friends was shot dead, another friend was shot repeatedly and badly injured, and her dog, Chloe, was killed.
Snider-Gerdin's emotional testimony emerged Wednesday at a combined preliminary hearing for two men prosecutors say were part of a convoluted drug deal that went wrong.
Jason Kyle Clark, 36, is charged with aggravated murder, which could become a death-penalty case, regarding Kevin Kone, who was fatally shot in the head April 29 at Snider-Gerdin's home in South Salt Lake.
Clark also faces several other felonies and a charge of animal cruelty because prosecutors believe Clark killed the dog.
Co-defendant Daniel Paul Blankenship, 31, is charged with murder, aggravated burglary and three counts of aggravated kidnapping, all first-degree felonies.
Third District Judge L.A. Dever bound both men over for trial and set an arraignment date for Dec. 3.
Snider-Gerdin testified she agreed to help a friend buy some methamphetamine from a female drug dealer for $180, but although the dealer got paid, she did not come through.
Blankenship came to Snider-Gerdin's house stating he would repay the money the dealer had gotten, but then Clark and another man Snider-Gerdin didn't know showed up with guns and a crowbar. Snider-Gerdin said she was grilled about the drug dealer's son supposedly being beaten up in retaliation for not producing the drugs, but Snider-Gerdin said she knew nothing about that.
Clark did not believe her and beat her in the head with a gun, she testified. "It was not the Jason I knew," she said, sobbing, adding that his facial expression was "evil." Blankenship, meanwhile, was directed to act as lookout.
The unidentified man stated, "You need to feel humiliated" to Snider-Gerdin and brainstormed with the other men about ways to do so, then he began hurting her.
"He burned me with a cigarette," a distraught Snider-Gerdin said. "I had a rag in my mouth, and I was told I could not scream or cry out."
Within an hour, Kevin Kone and Debra Lindner arrived at the home and they, too, were accosted and began pleading for their lives. Kone, on the floor, at one point stood up and declared, "I'm not going down like this," and a fight broke out, Snider-Gerdin testified.
"I grabbed my dog and huddled into the couch and buried my head," Snider-Gerdin said. "I heard gunshots."
She felt bullets enter her body, realized the three men had left and grabbed Lindner to stumble out the back, screaming for help.
Snider-Gerdin said she was hospitalized for a week, sustained nerve damage, has memory problems and now cannot use her right hand. She also needed to resume taking psychotropic medications for pre-existing mental-health problems that had stabilized.
Blankenship and Clark are both being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on $1 million cash-only bail. Clark also faces two counts of attempted aggravated murder, three counts of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary, all first-degree felonies.Defense attorneys say the unidentified man is in jail but will be released soon. However, prosecutors say they have no plans to charge anyone else in this case.
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