Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney - Clayton Simms

new_clayton_about A criminal charge, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, can be a life changing event. Clayton Simms is a fierce advocate for people who have been charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. He represents clients who are facing charges in Salt Lake City and Greater Salt Lake County. In addition, he also represents clients along the Wasatch front. Clayton Simms represents defendants in other crimes Clayton has represented athletes, doctors, lawyers, and other notable people and has been featured on the news. Do you have a legal question? Contact Clayton Simms today!

Bodies Found near Southern Utah Tied to Case of Missing Couple

Two bodies found buried near southern Utah have been tied to a case of couple missing since January.

Human remains

Photo by: Tom Britt

Two sets of human remains were found in the desert just south of the Utah/Arizona border recently and one of the bodies has been officially identified as 63 year old Susan McFalls. The other set has yet to be identified, yet family members expect the DNA results will match that of Susan McFalls’ husband, 63 year old Jerry McFalls. The two bodies were found buried on the side of a dirt road within view of Interstate 15 and investigators have determined the cause of death to be homicide.

Missing persons

The retired couple who has two homes- one in Littlefield, Arizona just south of the Utah border and another home in West Jordan, Utah have been missing since January 11th, 2018 while at their Arizona home. That afternoon, the couple had texted their family members in northern Utah to let them know they were going to be traveling to their Utah home that weekend. No one ever heard from them again. 10 days later, family members contacted law enforcement to do a welfare check at the couple’s Littlefield, Arizona home. Officers were not able to find Susan and Jerry McFalls, but they did locate their pets as well as personal effects and packed vehicles still at the home. With the front door ajar, TV blaring, and dinner mid-preparation, Jerry and Susan McFalls appeared to have vanished. It wasn’t until over ten months later that the human remains were discovered mere miles from the couple’s home.

Foul Play in the desert

Photo by: Don Graham

Law enforcement determined that due to the way the bodies were found, foul play was suspected. There is suspicion surrounding a disgruntled neighbor who was set to go to court regarding assaulting Jerry McFalls with a pellet gun, however no one has been officially charged and the missing persons case is now an active homicide investigation. Those found responsible for the deaths of the couple will end up facing multiple charges including homicide and desecration of a human body.

Raid on Spanish Fork Home Results in Drug and Weapons Charges

A raid on a Spanish Fork home Monday has resulted in several drug and weapons charges for two individuals living at that residence including one who is a restricted person.

The drug house

Photo by: Kelly Parker McPherson

A home in a quiet neighborhood in Spanish Fork, Utah was raided days after one of the home’s residents was picked up on drug charges. During the raid, law enforcement officers located drugs, guns, ammo, and cash from what appears to be a drug distribution business run out of that home. Found were distributable amounts of heroin, meth, marijuana dab, and cocaine on the premises. Additionally, several weapons along with thousands of rounds of ammo were also located as well as over three grand in cash.

Drug possession and distribution

24 year old Jennifer Lynn Coplen was arrested with possession and producing a controlled substance as well as intent to distribute. Coplen is not facing any charges for the weapons found at the home. The other individual living at the home was 28 year old Rolf Michael Pawelek. Like Coplen, Pawelek was also charged with possession and intent to distribute. Pawelek however, was also listed as a Category II restricted person and as such will be facing charges for the weapons found at the residence.

Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person

Photo by: Lisa Zins

Utah Code 76-10-503 explains that certain individuals are prohibited from possessing a dangerous weapon. Someone listed as a “Category I restricted person is a person who:

(i) Has been convicted of any violent felony . . . ;
(ii) Is on probation or parole for any felony;
(iii) Is on parole from a secure facility . . . ;
(iv) Within the last 10 years [was charges as a minor with something that would be a violent felony as an adult] . . . ;
(v) Is an alien who is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(vi) Is on probation for a conviction of possessing [controlled substances or synthetic equivalents]”.

A Category II restricted person includes those “who:

(i) Has been convicted of any felony;
(ii) Within the last seven years [was charges as a minor for something that would have been a felony as an adult];
(iii) Is an unlawful user of a controlled substance . . . ;
(iv) Is in possession of a dangerous weapon and is knowingly and intentionally in unlawful possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance;
(v) Has been found not guilty by reason of insanity . . .;
(vi) Has been adjudicated as mentally defective . . . ;
(vii) Has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces;
(viii) Has renounced the individual’s citizenship after having been a citizen . . . ;
(ix) Is a respondent or defendant to a protective order . . . ;
(x) Has been convicted of the commission or attempted commission of [domestic violence] assault. . .”

Sole owner of weapons or previous criminal history

The reason for the restricted person status for Pawelek was not listed, however based on the arrest information, it could be simply having guns and schedule I or II drugs at the same time (as listed in subsection IV). If that were the case, it is not clear why Coplen would not also be facing the same restricted person charges unless the weapons were found in a room personally used by Pawelek only. Both residents of the home are facing multiple felony charges for the drug charges and Pawelek is also facing a third degree felony for each weapon found in the home. For more information on what constitutes a violation by a restricted person or for legal help regarding criminal charges, contact an experienced defense attorney.

Two Deaths in One day Following Multiple Officer-Related Shootings in Utah

Multiple Officer-Related Shootings in Utah over the past couple weeks have resulted in the deaths of five individuals, two of those deaths taking place today.

Officer-Related Shooting

Photo by: Dean Strelau

Early this morning, officers were responding to a domestic disturbance when they came upon 26 year old Jason Whittle who was holding a knife to his mother’s throat. Officers shot and killed Whittle, saving the mother from her son’s threatening behavior with a weapon that turned out to be a butter knife.

Another officer-related shooting

Also taking place today was the death of another Utah resident who was shot by police. A few days before he succumbed to his injuries, police shot 61 year old James Lyle Kuehn after he was suspected to be the person of interest in a robbery of a fast-food restaurant in Kearns. Kuehn was said to be in dangerous possession of a small knife. Police located him nearby and after tazing him, opened fire with what eventually turned out to be lethal shots. It is unknown at this time whether or not Kuehn displayed that small knife before officers opened fire.

And more…

The deaths of Whittle and Kuehn today are added to the growing number of “shot by police” fatalities that have taken place within the last couple weeks throughout Utah. Also killed by Utah police recently were:

• 23 year old Andrey Tkachenko, a parolee shot and killed by Metro Gang Unit on October 18. (unknown if he was armed);
• 17 year old Jacob E. Albrethsen, shot and killed by officers responding to a domestic disturbance on October 12. (Albrethsen was armed with a knife);
• 22 year old Diamonte Riviore, killed by police following a domestic violence call on October 10 (Riviore was also armed with a knife).

Was deadly force needed?

One common theme among the five officer-related shooting deaths lately was the question of whether or not any of these shootings were necessary. Did officers truly fear that their or a victim’s lives were in danger when the knives involved in 4 out of 5 of the shootings were displayed? Was it necessary to shoot to kill? Were the tazers used in a few of those incidents essentially “ineffective” or did officers react too quickly in a nerve-racking situation? With the tension continuing to rise between law enforcement and the public they are sworn to protect, it is imperative that those behind the badge who go through extensive training are an example to others of how we should react when faced with these high-stress situations.