Provo man ordered to stand trial for aunt's murder

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PROVO -- A judge has ordered a Provo man to stand trial for the rape and murder of his aunt.

Over the past two days in a pretrial, prosecutors have put on their evidence against Damien Candland, who is accused of killing 41-year-old Amy Candland and then leaving her body in Hobble Creek Canyon on Feb. 21.

The case has been investigated for more than six months. It's still unclear what the motive was for the brutal crime, beyond the fact the victim and her nephew -- who lived in the same house -- couldn't get along.

"We don't necessarily know a motive. It's not something we have to establish according to the legal standards," said Deputy Utah County Attorney Julia Thomas. "It looks like from the testimony we have received there was just an antagonistic relationship between these two people and it resulted in Amy Jo's death."

From detectives who've tied Damien Candland, 22, to the case to evidence from the medical examiner, the most damaging testimony may have come from Damien's own father. Keith Candland. and step-mother, Laurie Watts-Candland.

Both testified in court Tuesday that Damien and his aunt had a volatile relationship.

They said the two had been fighting over the cleanliness of the family-owned Provo house they lived in. Watts-Candland said just a week and a half before Amy's death, Damien said he couldn't take it anymore and wanted to rip her head off.

"We wanted them to testify and provide the information they had truthfully, and they did so," Thomas said.

Prosecutors acknowledge that their case is largely circumstantial in that there are no witnesses to what happened. However, they say they are confident they have enough forensic evidence against Damien Candland to take the case to a jury.

Once Damien Candland is formally arraigned on the charges on Sept. 30, prosecutors will have 60 days to decide if they will seek the death penalty against him.


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