PROVO The cases against a group of friends charged with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping have begun to fragment, as each of them took a different legal option Tuesday.
Trevor Powell and Casey Ortega had preliminary hearings Tuesday in 4th District Court, where the only evidence prosecutors presented was a series of statements from the victim, neighbors and even friends who were involved in the alleged crime.
Police say Powell, Ortega and a third man attacked the victim on March 23 after he was driven to an American Fork church parking lot by Ashley Richman and Ortega.
In the attack, the man's leather jacket was stolen and he was stabbed with a knife from his back, around his chest and down his ribs. The victim was able to run away and get help from nearby neighbors.
In the victim's statement, he wrote, writes, "As I was running, I could feel the blood running down my side and into my shoes."
The neighbors described how on Easter Sunday night they heard pounding on their door and opened it to find a "young kid, saying ... he had been beaten and stabbed," according to their statement presented to Judge Steven Hansen Tuesday afternoon.
The neighbors wrote the man told them he had been attacked at the church parking lot and asked for help. He was taken to the hospital and treated and has since recovered.
Prosecutors filed amended charges Tuesday, changing an aggravated robbery charge to the aggravated kidnapping charge. Because of that, Ortega's and Powell's defense attorneys asked for time to write briefs about the changed charges before the judge rules if there's enough evidence to go to trial. Powell and Ortega will be in court again July 15.
Richman was also in court Tuesday, although she waived her preliminary hearing, getting a date on July 15 for an entry of plea.
Prosecutor Sherry Ragan said after some discussions Richman came to the County Attorney's Office and also filled out a statement about that night's events as part of a plea deal, although Ragan wouldn't expand on what that deal included.
Another man hasn't appeared in 4th District Court yet, but was also arrested for investigation of attempted murder.Zachery Don Zaelit was arrested by American Fork Police for investigation of obstruction of justice after he failed to tell officers that Powell was hiding in the house. He pleaded guilty to that charge Tuesday, and in exchange, state prosecutors agreed to not ask for any more time in jail. He had already served 60 days and was released Tuesday night.
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