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.

Utah Man Soliciting Sex Entrapped in Felony Charges for Conspiracy to Commit Child Rape

A southern Utah man who was soliciting sex online was instead entrapped in felony charges for conspiracy to commit child rape.

Married man looking for fun

Entrapped by Police

Photo by: Jakub Hlavaty

22 year old Taylor John Hummel of St. George Utah was arrested after he posted an ad on a website known for sexual solicitation and stated he was married and looking for “discreet fun”. Law enforcement officers who were screening the website saw the ad and responded to Hummel. The undercover officer told Hummel that she would trade sex for money and then offered her fictional teenager daughter for an addition cost. Although hesitant, Hummel discussed the details then agreed to the arrangements and set up a time to meet.

Not what he wanted

Once Hummel arrived at the meeting place, he handed the undercover officer enough money for sexual favors from her but he did not exchange money for her daughter. Hummel was apparently uncomfortable with the idea of having sexual relations with the teenager. Hummel was then arrested for a class B misdemeanor sexual solicitation for paying the undercover agent for sex. Surprisingly, he was also charged with first-degree felony conspiracy to commit child rape for briefly agreeing to the undercover agent’s offer of sexual favors from the teen.

Entrapped in felony charges

Photo by: Anna Nowak

Although Hummel admitted to soliciting sex online, he did not state in his ad nor ask the undercover agent to have sexual relations with a minor. The undercover officer was the one who offered the fictional teen to Hummel, who otherwise may have never considered his ad would reach a juvenile. For this reason, it appears Hummel may have been entrapped by officers who were looking for a bigger fish to fry and instead made something more out of a guy looking for a hookup.

Entrapment

Claiming entrapment can be tricky. Utah Code 76-2-303 states “Entrapment occurs when a peace officer or a person directed by or acting in cooperation with the officer induces the commission of an offense in order to obtain evidence of the commission for prosecution by methods creating a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by one not otherwise ready to commit it.” However the same section also notes “Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.”

Legal counsel

Photo by: jseliger2

So did the officer convince Hummel to agree to sex with a minor or did they merely offer Hummel the opportunity which he agreed to? Does the fact that he didn’t want to go through with it show that if not offered, he probably would not have ever asked? All individuals facing criminal charges should have a professional criminal defense attorney working their case. When cases involve potential entrapment, it is vital to have a knowledgeable defense on your side to ensure that everything is handled fairly.

“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.