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Fight over TV remote ends in felony charges for homicide suspect

Fight over TV remote ends in felony charges for homicide suspect

(Wasatch County Sheriff's Office)


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HEBER CITY β€” A jailhouse fight over the TV remote control has a suspect in a Utah cold-case homicide facing a new felony charge.

Joseph Michael Simpson is slated to make his first appearance Wednesday in 4th District Court on one count of assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony.

Wasatch County corrections deputies received information on Dec. 27 that Simpson and fellow inmate Wayne Guadalupe Rocha Jr. had been involved in a fight, Wasatch County Sheriff's chief deputy Jared Rigby said Monday.

After removing the men from the cell block, deputies reported finding blood on Simpson's clothes and two "dig marks" on his face, Rigby said. Rocha also had minor injuries consistent with being involved in a fight, the chief deputy said.

"It appeared to be a mutual combat situation," Rigby said, noting that at least one of the men said the fight started with an argument over the TV remote.

Rocha, 39, is serving jail time for two misdemeanor drug convictions. He has also been charged with assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony, and is expected in court Wednesday.

Simpson, 42, was arrested in September and charged with murder for the bludgeoning death of 17-year-old Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch. The girl's bloody and broken body was found on Dec. 15, 1997, along the banks of the Provo River near Midway. Investigators believe she was beaten to death with rocks.

It would be almost 18 years though before advances in DNA analysis linked Simpson β€” who served time in the Utah State Prison in the 1980s for murder β€” to Beslanowitch's death, authorities said.

A preliminary hearing in the murder case is scheduled for May 5.

In addition to the new assault charges against Simpson and Rocha, both men are expected to face administrative sanctions in the jail, Rigby said.

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Geoff Liesik

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