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AMERICAN FORK — The case of a South Jordan man accused of killing his stepfather may have started as an effort to protect the man's mother during a family fight, but went too far, according to police.
Jace Zeeman, 27, of South Jordan, was booked into the Utah County Jail Thursday for investigation of manslaughter and two counts of domestic violence in the presence of children.
Zeeman is accused of assaulting his stepfather, Brandon Bourgeois, 47, on Aug. 27. Bourgeois, who suffered a brain injury and multiple facial fractures, and had been hospitalized since the incident, died from his injuries on Sept. 1 after being taken off life support, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.
Zeeman's interaction with law enforcement that morning began about 12:30 a.m. in South Jordan when police were called to a domestic violence incident. Zeeman was intoxicated and had gotten into an argument with his wife, according to South Jordan police.
During the course of the argument, Zeeman allegedly smashed his wife's cellphone and punched a hole in the wall. He was later charged in South Jordan Justice Court with domestic violence in the presence of children, damaging a phone, criminal mischief and intoxication.
The wife was not injured. Because of that, Zeeman was issued a citation and a no-contact order by police, and ordered to leave the property. Zeeman's mother was called to pick him up and take him away from the house, according to police.
About 3 a.m., after Zeeman arrived at his mother's house in American Fork, an argument between all family members unfolded.
According to the affidavit as well as a search warrant unsealed this week in 4th District Court, Bourgeois started arguing with Zeeman's mother. Bourgeois was yelling at the woman and slammed her car door, the report states.
"Zeeman said he stepped in between the two to calm the situation down. Zeeman said (Bourgeois) struck Zeeman with his fist on or about the head, at which point, a fight unfolded between Zeeman, Zeeman’s brother and the victim," according to the affidavit.
Neighbors called police when all three men began fighting in the yard.
But as the fight progressed, police say Zeeman went beyond what would be considered self-defense or defending his mother.
"In this case, it appears the two adult sons may have used force beyond what is expected to protect themselves from an unlawful simple assault," investigators wrote in the warrant.
Zeeman told officers he "choked out" Bourgeois, the affidavit states, and witnesses told police that the stepfather was repeatedly punched and "the fighting never stopped until the police arrived." Bourgeois was discovered by officers on the lawn unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse.
American Fork police noted in the affidavit that "Zeeman has military training in hand-to-hand combat."
The brother was not arrested. Formal charges against Zeeman were pending Friday.
The mother was not injured.
Bourgeois was a well-known football coach in American Fork, according to a memorial Facebook page.
"His greatest joy in life came from coaching and cheering on his boys in numerous sports including motocross, baseball, basketball and football. Most days and weekends were spent at the races or ball fields sharing advice, support, love of the game and creating a lifetime of great memories," according to his obituary.
Bourgeois loved the outdoors, and his family considered him "a BBQ extraordinaire."
"His sweet smile and fierce determination melted the hearts of all who knew him. As an adult, he was never afraid of anything and was the kind of loyal friend we all want to be. He made everyone he met feel welcome and accepted. If you were lucky enough to be included in his circle of friends you know he would give you the shirt off his back without a second thought," his obituary says.