Utah Police Search for Driver Who Left the Scene of a Deadly Hit and Run

Utah Police are searching for the driver who left the scene of a deadly hit and run accident that occurred over the weekend in St. George.

Deadly hit and run

Photo by: Tony Webster

On Saturday evening sometime between 5 and 8pm, a Utah driver struck a woman walking along Dixie Drive in St. George, just south of a busy intersection. The driver then left the scene and the woman’s body was found later by other pedestrians walking by. The victim was identified by her daughters as 53 year old Bettina Abraham. It has not been announced if Abraham was killed instantly or died alone on the side of the road after being hit.

Plea via social media

In a live video cast from the St. George Police Department, a department spokeswoman pleaded with the public to come forward with any information related to events that evening or vehicles that may have been involved. They even beseeched the person responsible to contact them to let the victim’s family receive closure and allow things to “move forward”.

Causes and consequences of deadly accidents

When someone takes the life of another with their vehicle, they may or may not face criminal charges depending upon the circumstances:

• If it is found that the driver was not at fault when the deadly accident occurred, no citations would be given.

• If the driver made an error in driving that resulted in “the death of another” but that didn’t amount to being reckless or negligent, they may be charged with negligent homicide as stated in Utah Code 76-5-206, a class A misdemeanor.

Photo by: Chris Yarzab

• If a person is driving their vehicle recklessly such as through speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. and causes a deadly accident, they may face second degree manslaughter as stated in Utah Code 76-5-205.

• If the driver was using what Utah Code 76-5-207.5 describes as a “handheld wireless communication device” when the accident occurred, they may face third or second degree felonies, depending on whether or not they were also driving in a criminally negligent manner.

• If the driver was “operat[ing] a motor vehicle in a negligent manner” and “is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug” they may be charged with automobile homicide, a third degree felony. If they were found to be driving in a “criminally negligent manner”, it would then be increased to a second degree felony.

Leaving the scene of an accident

Whether or not the driver was completely innocent when the deadly accident occurred or if they were acting in a criminal manner or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if the driver flees the scene, they will face felony charges. Utah Code 41-6a-401.5 states, The operator of a vehicle who has reason to believe that the operator may have been involved in an accident resulting in the death of a person shall: immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible without obstructing traffic more than in necessary; and remain at the scene of the accident until the operator has [given driver information, rendered aid to the other person, and contacted authorities]”.

Reasons to flea

There have been many public assumptions as to why the driver chose not to stop after striking Bettina Abraham with their vehicle. Some in the community claim the driver was texting, high, drunk, or maybe not a legal driver. Others guess the driver may have been scared or distraught and fled the scene out of emotional distress over what they had done. Whatever the reason, the driver should back themselves with a reputable attorney and turn themselves into the police immediately.

First Degree Aggravated Arson for Setting Own Apartment on Fire

A Utah man is facing charges for first degree aggravated arson as well as attempted murder for setting his own apartment on fire.

Paranoia unhinged

First Degree Aggravated Arson

Photo by: Denis Dervisevic

Kyle Stinson of West Valley City started a fire in his apartment earlier this month in what was found to be a disturbed and irrational attempt to protect himself from a neighbor. Police determined that Stinson’s neighbor posed no threat whatsoever. Stinson however was found to be the one causing danger as he started a fire in an occupied building and also tried to tie the door of his neighbor shut so they could not escape the apartment complex. Stinson faces charges of first degree aggravated arson and attempted murder.

First degree aggravated arson

Even though the only part of the building damaged was Stinson’s own apartment, Utah Code 76-6-103 states “A person is guilty of aggravated arson if by means of fire or explosives he intentionally and unlawfully damages:

a) A habitable structure; or

b) Any structure or vehicle when any person not a participant in the offense is in the structure or vehicle.”

Additionally, since he tried to tie his neighbor’s door closed after he set his apartment on fire, he is also facing attempted murder. Both charges that Stinson is facing are first degree felonies, each with possible prison terms of five years to life in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Questionable mental health

Photo by: Mike H

Photo by: Mike H

Since police were not able to find any justification to Stinson’s fears of being harmed by his neighbor, Stinson’s mental health should be questioned. Paranoia to the degree that Stinson’s was suffering from could be caused from drug use, but may have also resulted from an unchecked mental illness. Unfortunately, instead of seeking help for his apparent neurotic disorder or even requesting aid from law enforcement when he thought he was in danger, Stinson took matters into his own hands and now could spend the rest of his life in jail. For those who are facing charges such as first degree aggravated arson or other serious felonies and feel that they were not in their right state of mind during the offense, it is recommended to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney.

“Happy Endings” Massage Parlors Busted for Sexual Solicitation in Utah

Five “happy endings” massage parlors in St. George Utah were busted for sexual solicitation after undercover officers were offered sexual favors for cash following a massage.

Happy endings massage parlors

Photo by: Morgan Sherwood

Photo by: Morgan Sherwood

Four massage parlors in St. George (and one in Washington City) were part of an investigation after several witnesses came forward to claim they had been offered sexual favors following a massage, otherwise known as happy endings massages. Other residents voiced their concerns about the amount of male-only traffic seen at the businesses in question. Following nearly a half- year of investigation, Utah authorities arrested seven women from five massage parlors for either prostitution, unlawful conduct, or both.

Practicing massage without a license

The five businesses that were part of the investigation were: Japan Massage, Golden Coast Massage, Massage Therapy, and both locations of Dixie Massage. The seven women arrested in the prostitution sting, many of whom were residents of California, were as named: Yuxoang Wang, Li Ying, Dong Ju Jin, Yuhua Liu, Feng Fang Li, Jumei Qin, and Shanmei Olmstead. All of the above women face charges of unlawful conduct for practicing massage without a license, a class A misdemeanor.

Sexual solicitation a.k.a. prostitution

No Sexual Solicitation

Photo by: Walker Larry

Three of the women arrested for unlawful conduct are also facing charges for sexual solicitation. According to Utah Code 76-10-1313, “A person is guilty of sexual solicitation when the person:

a) Offers or agrees to commit any sexual activity with another person for a fee, or the functional equivalent of a fee;

b) Pays or offers or agrees to pay a fee to another person to commit any sexual activity; or

c) with intent to engage in sexual activity for a fee or to pay another person to commit any sexual activity for a fee engages in, offers or agrees to engage in, or requests or directs another to engage in any of the following acts:

i. exposure of a person’s genitals, the buttocks, the anus, the pubic area, or the female breast below the top of the areola;

ii. masturbation;

iii. touching of a person’s genitals, the buttocks, the anus, the pubic area, or the female breast; or

iv. any act of lewdness.”

More charges pending

Authorities stated that more charges for sexual solicitation are likely pending. Those facing charges could include other employees of the massage parlors as well as clients who paid to have happy endings massages. Sexual solicitation is a class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Those individuals facing charges are encouraged to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.