News / Utah / 

Utah County Jail

Utahn once acquitted of murder held gun to stylist's head, police say

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Mar. 19, 2019 at 4:15 p.m.

1 photo

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

OREM — An Orem man acquitted more than seven years ago of murder is now accused of holding a gun to a hair salon employee and demanding sexual acts.

Stephen Edward Strate, 64, was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony, and aggravated assault, a third-degree felony.

Police say the incident occurred on Jan. 18.

"During a haircut, Strate made sexual advances on (a 33-year-old female hair stylist) to the point that he isolated her in an area of the hair salon that was out of the range of surveillance cameras. While in this area, State started kissing her and groping her," according to charging documents.

Strate then unbuttoned his pants and tried to force the woman to touch him, the charges state. When she refused, he pulled out a .32 Keltec handgun and "held the gun to her neck/head and told her he was going to shoot her in the head if she would not play his 'game,'" according to charging documents.

The woman was "able to wrestle the gun away from him until she was in control and ordered him out of the salon and she locked the salon door," the charges state.

Strate later returned to the salon "and gave the victim $200 as hush money so she would not call the police," investigators wrote in the court documents.

When interviewed by police, Strate claimed the gun was part of foreplay and that he was "trying to arouse her," the charges state. He said he was surprised the woman became upset, apparently believing they had a prior connection.

"He felt bad he had upset her and (the $200) was part of a pattern of him giving the stylist cash to help her with her kids during hard economic times. He also told police that, since he is married, he has used a 'burner phone' to surreptitiously contact and text the victim over the past few months," according to the charges.

"The victim admitted that he texted her around Christmas and gave her money for her kids but that on other occasions he had asked her for sex in exchange for the money," the charging documents say.

Investigators watched surveillance video from inside the salon that showed "Strate was not being forthright with the police in his version of events and confirms that the victim disarmed him as she is holding his gun while walking him to the salon door," the charges state.

In 2011, Strate was acquitted by a jury in the shooting death of his brother-in-law.

Strate was charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in the 2009 death of Marvin Sidwell, 51. Strate testified that the two were fighting when Sidwell grabbed a metal drummer's stool. When Sidwell came at him, Strate pulled out a gun — he testified during the 2011 trial that he had carried a gun on him since 1997 — and fired seven shots, hitting Sidwell five times.

Jurors determined that the shooting was in self-defense.


Pat Reavy

KSL Weather Forecast