Now 3 people are charged with kidnapping, murdering St. George woman

Now 3 people are charged with kidnapping, murdering St. George woman

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SALT LAKE CITY — A second person has been charged with capital murder in the death of a St. George woman and a third person has been charged with murder.

Maida Janet Martinez, 35, who address is listed as unknown, was charged Thursday in 5th District Court with aggravated murder, a capital offense; and kidnapping, a second-degree felony.

Joseph Edward Fought, 30, of North Carolina, was previously charged with aggravated murder, also a capital offense.

Both are accused of killing Stevie Shay Wilkerson, 26, who had been missing since Aug. 9 before her remains were located in western Iron County on Aug. 23.

Brittany Elizabeth Phillips, 27, from Missouri, was originally charged Aug. 31 in 5th District Court with possessing a stolen vehicle, a second-degree felony. Her charges were amended on Wednesday to murder, a first-degree felony, and kidnapping, a second-degree felony.

All three are accused of being in a vehicle with Wilkerson and taking her to a remote area in western Iron County where she was shot and killed, charging documents state. Martinez was the one who first provided information to authorities about Wilkerson, court documents indicate, leading to the arrests of Fought and Phillips in California on Aug. 31.

But charging documents filed Thursday paint a chilling picture of Martinez being an active participant in the killing.

Wilkerson was last seen leaving the Claridge Inn, 1187 S. Bluff, on Aug. 9 and getting into a Chevy truck with Fought, Martinez and Phillips, the charges state.

Martinez had told investigators on Aug. 11 that Wilkerson was taken to an area near Enterprise. In a subsequent interview on Sept. 3, Martinez told police that Fought had told her that Phillips “was going to beat on Stevie. Martinez stated they drove the ‘back way’ to Cedar City and stopped near a town she believed to be Enterprise,” according to charging documents.

“During the drive, Martinez stated that she slapped Wilkerson a few times and that they were all teasing and being mean to Wilkerson. Martinez stated that Mr. Fought punched Wilkerson in the face causing her to bleed,” the charges state.

At one point, while driving on a dirt road, Fought and Wilkerson got out of the truck, and Phillips continued driving before making a U-turn, the charges state.

“Fought then got into the truck without Wilkerson. Martinez also stated that Fought later told her he had killed Wilkerson,” according to the charges.

But when police interviewed Phillips, she stated that it was both Martinez and Fought who had gotten out of the truck with Wilkerson.

She told investigators that “Martinez was beating on Wilkerson in the back seat of the truck while they drove” and that Wilkerson wanted to get out of the truck but was not allowed, the charges state. When the truck finally stopped, both Fought and Martinez forced Wilkerson to get out, Phillips told investigators.

When they got back in the vehicle, Wilkerson was not with them.

“Phillips stated that Fought said, ‘No body, no case,’” according to charging documents.

Investigators said they later discovered that Martinez had Wilkerson’s cellphone after she was killed and was using it.

A person convicted of aggravated murder can be sentenced to up to life in prison without the possibility of parole, or 25 years to life in prison. Prosecutors can also declare whether or not they’ll seek the death penalty on a capital murder case after a defendant is arraigned.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.

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