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Trevor Powell

PROVO — Holding someone by the arm while punching him is an assault — not a kidnapping, attorneys argued Tuesday.

"Virtually every fight has ... some restraint," said defense attorney Matthew Howell. "Particularly where (the state) is alleging it's a group fight. I can't imagine a multiple party fight like this that didn't involve restraint."

Howell argued that although his client, Trevor Powell, may have restrained a man during a fight in American Fork in March, it doesn't mean his client tried to kidnap or murder him.

Powell and co-defendant Casey Ortega both face felonies in 4th District Court of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping for the March incident.

Although everyone involved in the case has slightly different stories, prosecutors do know that a man was taken by deception to a parking lot in American Fork, punched, robbed of a leather jacket and eventually stabbed.

The bloodied victim was able to escape and ran to a nearby home for help.

Police say Ashley Richman and Ortega brought the man to the parking lot intending to assault him. Jason Ford helped pull the victim out of the truck and held him and Powell was the alleged stabber.

Richman and Ford have since taken plea deals, receiving lowered charges in exchange for testifying against the other defendants.

However, their statements may actually help Powell and Ortega, defense attorneys said.

To prove attempted aggravated murder, attorney Mike Petro — who represents Ortega — said his client would have had to act intentionally and in a way that would have constituted a "substantial step" to murder.

But he never did, Petro said, reading from the statement Richman gave prosecutors.

"'The four of us had discussed about what was going to take place, such as beating him up,"' Petro read.

"Nobody says they were going to stab him," Petro said. "They found out after that he was stabbed."

Howell and Petro also argued for dropping the aggravating kidnapping charge, stating that "holding" or "restraining" was simply incidental to the fighting.

With the aggravated kidnapping charge gone, the aggravating factor for the attempted aggravated murder would also disappear, the defense attorneys argued.

Prosecutor Sherry Ragan asked Judge Steven Hansen to consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the state. Hansen still has not ruled on whether to order the men to stand trial. He set a hearing for Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m. and said he would announce a decision before then.

"All that's required for the aggravated kidnapping is that (the victim) be detained under circumstances exposing him to the risk of bodily injury," Ragan said. "I think that occurred at the time he was removed from the vehicle ... for the purpose of Mr. Powell striking him with his fists."

Along with being hit, the victim received a stab wound nearly 17 inches long from his back around to his chest and down to his ribs, Ragan said.


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