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Utahn once convicted of killing mother followed girl into school to 'hurt' her, charges say

A man who was found "guilty and insane" in the beating death of his mother more than 15 years ago is now facing charges of walking into Highland High School with the intent to harm students.

A man who was found "guilty and insane" in the beating death of his mother more than 15 years ago is now facing charges of walking into Highland High School with the intent to harm students. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A man with a long history of mental illness who was found "guilty and insane" in the beating death of his mother more than 15 years ago is now facing charges accusing him of walking into a Salt Lake high school with the intent to harm students.

Matthew Alex Kirkham, 51, was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with burglary, a third-degree felony.

On Nov. 17, Salt Lake police were called to Highland High School, 2166 S. 1700 East, where a man followed two females into the school, including one student. A school security officer located and detained the man.

When questioned, Kirkham said "that he was there to hurt kids," according to charging documents.

Because of his history of violence, prosecutors have requested that Kirkham remain in the Salt Lake County Jail pending the outcome of his criminal case.

In 2005 in Kearns, Kirkham beat his 72-year-old mother, Joann Kirkham, with a rock and then forced her to breathe paint fumes from a bag, resulting in her death. He was originally charged with murder but later pleaded "guilty and insane" to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

He was sent to the Utah State Hospital and a halfway house, but in 2009 his probation was revoked and was ordered to serve his original sentence of one to 15 years at the Utah State Prison, according to court records.

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Utah K-12 educationPolice & CourtsUtahSalt Lake County
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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