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Murder charge filed in Utah State Hospital slaying

By Geoff Liesik | Posted - Jan. 26, 2012 at 4:21 p.m.



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AMERICAN FORK — Prosecutors have filed a murder charge against a Utah State Hospital patient who is accused of strangling a fellow patient to death.

The first-degree felony charge was filed Wednesday in 4th District Court against James Clive Norman.

Norman, 34, killed 28-year-old Omar Abas Sharif on March 18 because he was upset about Sharif's snoring, according to charging documents.

Norman approached a nurse at 1 a.m. and complained that he couldn't sleep because of the snoring, the charges state. Thirty minutes later, Norman told the same nurse that Sharif needed a doctor because "something is wrong with him."

The nurse and other staff members entered the room the men shared and found Sharif on the floor between his bed and the wall. He did not have a pulse and was later pronounced dead at an emergency room.


Norman approached a nurse at 1 a.m. and complained that he couldn't sleep because of the snoring, the charges state. Thirty minutes later, Norman told the same nurse that Sharif needed a doctor because "something is wrong with him."

Norman told several people, including a deputy state medical examiner, that he and Sharif got into a fight, and that he slammed Sharif's head against the wall, punched him in the throat and choked him, the charges state.

But an autopsy determined that Sharif died as a result of strangulation.

Norman has a long history with law enforcement in Utah County.

In December 2009, Orem police cited him for inappropriately touching a 16-year-old girl at the Provo Towne Centre. He pleaded no contest to the charge in January 2010.

Then in July 2010, Norman was charged with assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony, for head-butting his defense attorney during a court hearing. A competency review was ordered after the incident, and Norman was committed to the state hospital, a state-run facility for patients with severe or chronic mental illness and also houses criminal suspects and convicts.

Two months later, 4th District Judge Donald Eyre determined that Norman was mentally incompetent.

The delay in filing the murder charge against Norman was due largely to his mental state, said Utah County prosecutor Doug Finch.

"We wanted to be very responsible, as far as his mental health issues go," Finch said. "We didn't want to interfere with treatment."

Norman, who remains in the state hospital, is slated to make his intital court appearance Feb. 21.

Email:gliesik@ksl.com

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