Minor Traffic Accident Escalates to Assault with a Vehicle

A minor traffic accident in southern Utah quickly escalated to assault with a vehicle after a driver decided he didn’t want to stay at the scene.

Fender Bender

Assault with a Vehicle

Photo by: Charles Wagner

20 year old Ethan Campbell Hansen of St. George, Utah was arrested for multiple misdemeanors as well as four felonies after being involved in a minor traffic accident during holiday festivities last week. The rear-ending accident itself was minor and would have likely ended in a traffic violation for Hansen of following too close. Unfortunately, the fender bender was just the beginning.

Traffic violation vs felony charges

Instead of waiting for police to come investigate the accident, Hansen attempted to flee. Two pedestrians were struck by Hansen’s vehicle, suffering minor injuries, while multiple others were able to get out of harm’s way. It was only then that Hansen decided to stay on scene. After authorities were able to obtain Hansen’s true identity and restrain him, he was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility. His charges include:

• Two Class C misdemeanors for criminal mischief and leaving the scene of a pedestrian accident;

• Two Class B misdemeanor for interfering with an arrest and failing to disclose identity;

• One third degree felony for assault by a prisoner; as well as

• Three other third degree felonies for aggravated assault with a vehicle (dangerous weapon).

Assault with a vehicle

Photo by: Dean Strelau

Utah Code 76-5-103 states that “aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct that is
i. An attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;

ii. A threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;

iii. An act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and

That includes the use of:

i. A dangerous weapon [any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury]”

Although no weapons were located on Hansen or in his vehicle, assault with a vehicle has the potential to cause serious injury or death and is categorized along with other weapons when used in an assault.

Go big and go to jail

Photo by: Washington County Sheriff’s Department

With four misdemeanor and four felony charges to face in court, Hansen has the potential to face over 20 years in prison and fines totaling nearly $35,000. No one is sure why Hansen chose to escalate the situation, seeing as he isn’t known to be a violent offender or have any criminal history at all; He may have been simply trying to run away from the problems he caused. Many younger adults are not educated on how to property react to intense situations and fleeing can often seem the best course of action at the time. It is imperative that they are taught the importance of staying on the scene of an accident and not expanding the situation by reacting poorly. Anyone facing charges for a minor or serious offense is encouraged to seek guidance from this point out from a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Murder and Desecration of a Dead Human Body

A Utah man was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of murder and also for desecration of a dead human body.

Beaten to death

Desecration of a Dead Human Body

Photo by: r. nial bradshaw

34 year old Kammy Edmunds, mother of two, was found battered and deceased in the bathroom of her Mt. Pleasant home Saturday morning and her fiancée has been arrested in connection with her death. Initially, 35 year old Anthony Jeffery Christensen told police Edmunds had supposedly died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash but after further investigation, police determined she had been beaten to death. Christensen was booked as the sole suspect in the case.

“The car accident”

The fabricated story of the vehicle crash allegedly came about from Christensen attempting to blame Edmunds fatal injuries on a car crash that happened sometime in the late evening or early morning hours after he passed out drunk. In support of his story, Christensen’s late fiancée’s vehicle was found at the bottom of an embankment with her blood on the interior of the vehicle. Although the tale could have made sense to an untrained eye, investigators as well as a medical examiner concluded that the drive off the embankment would not have killed Edmunds. Additionally, her injuries consisted of multiple blows to the head which was not consistent with a car crash. Lastly, there was evidence that Edmunds body had been moved through the house post-mortem; all signs pointing to her fiancée as a her murderer.

Desecration of a dead human body

Photo by: dave Nakayama

Photo by: Dave Nakayama

Christensen’s efforts to cover up the real story of what happened to Kammy Edmunds didn’t pan out, and he was booked into Sanpete County jail on murder charges. Had he not gone through the trouble of producing a vehicle crash story and rearranging the murder scene, his charges would have stopped there. Since he dragged the body through the house and attempted to make it look like an accident, he is also facing charges for obstruction of justice and desecration of a dead human body. Utah Code 76-9-704 states “A person is guilty of abuse or desecration of a dead human body if the person intentionally and unlawfully:

(a) fails to report the finding of a dead human body to a local law enforcement agency;

(b) disturbs, moves, removes, conceals, or destroys a dead human body or any part of it;

(c) disinters a buried or otherwise interred dead human body, without authority of a court order;

(d) dismembers a dead human body to any extent, or damages or detaches any part or portion of a dead human body; ( . . . )

Failure to report finding a body is a class B misdemeanor, while all other types of desecration of a dead human body are punishable as a third degree felony.

Covering his tracks

Desecration of a dead human body can be seen as either a complete lack of respect for the dead or in this case, perhaps a panicked attempt to hide a grievous mistake. Christensen does not have a history that paints him out as one who would enjoy maliciously desecrating a body. He does have a history of acting out in anger though. According to legal information from two other states, Christensen had a history of domestic violence and had obviously not received enough help in controlling his angry outbursts of violence, even after multiple charges of domestic battery over several years.

Get help now

Photo by: Saurabh Vyas

Photo by: Saurabh Vyas

Utah has many programs and classes available to help those who struggle with anger and violence; In fact, these programs are often court ordered when charges of domestic violence are present. It is unclear whether or not Christensen had attended any classes or programs in his past, whether voluntarily or not. Now hopefully he can get the help he needs to control his anger by attending different behavioral classes during his time in prison. His life and the life of Kammy Edmunds and her family are forever changed and classes at this point will do little to help except to give Christensen understanding in his actions. For those who are facing charges of domestic violence, contact a criminal defense attorney and be sure to inquire about anger management classes. Anyone looking for help in controlling anger before it amounts to criminal charges such as murder or desecration of a dead human body, contact your local health department.

Shots Fired During Domestic Dispute at Southern Utah Home

An early morning domestic dispute at a southern Utah home ended in shots being fired and the SWAT team being dispatched.

Discharge of a weapon

Photo by: Washington County Sheriff's Office

Photo by: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Over three hours before sunrise on Sunday morning, residents of the quiet Tonaquint Terrace neighborhood in Southern Utah were awakened to the sound of gunshots coming from the home of John Christian Cole. Within minutes, the SWAT team had Cole’s house surround and nearly five hours after law enforcement was called, Cole was arrested without further incident.

Escalated marital spat

Investigators have determined that Cole was quarrelling with his wife when their domestic disputed escalated and he discharged a firearm. No one was reported to be seriously injured, including the couple’s two children who were also inside the residence at the time of the shooting. Among his charges however was listed a domestic violence simple assault, so it is assumed there might have been a minor physical altercation before or after Cole fired those shots in his home.

Felony charges following domestic dispute

Domestic Dispute

Photo by: madstreetz

According to the Washington County Sherriff’s Office bookings report, Cole was charged with simple assault; felony discharge of a weapon; possession of marijuana; and two counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child which were deemed aggravated since a dangerous weapon was used. Cole faces two misdemeanor charges as well as three third degree felonies which can each carry a five year prison sentences.

Anger management and proper storage of firearms

As with most arguments between spouses, things have the potential to intensify rapidly and it is always wise to have a strategy in place to allow each individual the time and space needed to regain a cool head; this is especially true when children are present. Additionally, properly storing firearms out of direct reach, unloaded, and under lock and key may deter any rash decisions to include said firearms in a domestic dispute. For those seeking counsel following poor decisions during a domestic dispute, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney who is experienced in handling domestic violence cases.