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5 cases, 2 judges: Questions arise about determining competency for man charged with double murder

5 cases, 2 judges: Questions arise about determining competency for man charged with double murder

(Al Hartmann)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys are trying to determine how competency can be assessed for a man facing charges before two different judges in five separate criminal cases, including allegations of a double homicide.

Brandon Beau Warren, 25, was charged last fall with two counts of murder, a first-degree felony, in the 2015 slayings of two people in Magna — Stevan Chambers and Shelli Marie Brown, both 26 years old.

He is also facing charges in four additional cases — three alleging various misdemeanor offenses including theft, criminal mischief and drug possession, and another charging him with assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony.

In all five cases, questions have been raised about whether Warren is competent to face the charges in court, including understanding the allegations against him and assisting his attorneys in raising a defense.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys made a joint proposal Monday to 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy, who is currently considering the double murder case, asking that a three-day competency hearing already scheduled before Judge James Blanch also be applied in Skanchy's court.

Skanchy denied the request out of concern that the charges in the double homicide case are more serious.

As a possible solution, attorneys will now consider asking Blanch to cancel the hearing scheduled before him June 19-21, and instead accept the competency determination Skanchy makes once a review can be done in his court.

Spencer Banks, a victim advocate attorney who represents Chambers' family, says there is concern of an appellate review should the two judges issue conflicting competency determinations, further delaying the murder trial.

Chambers' body was discovered with four gunshot wounds, including a fatal shot to the head, in the road near 8990 W. 2900 South in the early hours of Aug. 17, 2015. Brown was found with three gunshot wounds, including in her head and mouth, in the nearby Magna Copper Park, 8941 W. 2600 South, on Aug. 19, 2015. Police said in the weeks that followed that the shootings were likely related.

Ballistics confirmed Chambers and Brown were shot to death with the same .38-caliber handgun, according to charging documents.

Police found two bags with Brown's body when it was discovered on the park bleachers. In one of those bags was a partially consumed sports drink that had Warren's fingerprints on the bottle, according to the charges. The rim of the bottle revealed both Warren's and Brown's DNA, the charges state.

Tiffany Chambers, Stevan Chambers' sister, left the hearing Monday voicing frustration about the potential delay in the case as the family waits for their next court date to be scheduled.

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