Trial in Counselor Slaying Postponed

Trial in Counselor Slaying Postponed

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- The trial for Sean Graham in the death of a group home counselor has been taken off next month's court calendar because motions pending with the Utah Supreme Court.

Graham, 17, of Rockville, Md., is accused in the killing of counselor Anson Arnett on March 8, 2004. Co-defendant Jesse Simmons, 18, of Wilmington, Del., pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder in December and is awaiting sentencing.

Both originally were charged with capital murder, but 5th Circuit Court Judge G. Michael Westfall reduced the charge to first-degree felony murder. Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett has appealed the ruling to the Utah Supreme Court.

Until that issue and a defense motion are resolved, nothing will be done in the Graham case.

"I can't think of any scenario where the interlocutory appeals will be resolved by the time the trial is set to begin," Defense Attorney Douglas Terry told Westfall. The prosecutor agreed.

The defense motion appeals Westfall's finding that alleged crime was for personal gain, which would be an aggravating circumstance.

At the Iron County Jail, Graham has been in a cell by himself. He was in a block with other inmates, but once he started to destroy property, he was put in isolation, Iron County Interim Jail Captain Brad Spencer said.

"He's been heard (in a jail administrative hearing) on destroying jail property and we recently had a hearing because he urinated on the floor," Spencer said. "He's in the segregation area so there is minimal interaction with other inmates. If he gets out of his cell he's by himself."

Simmons has also had disciplinary problems and there is a charge pending in 5th District Court that he assaulted another inmate. As a result of that altercation, he was put in a more segregated area of the jail.

Spencer said Simmons is housed with another inmate and there are inmate rooms next to them, but there is no physical contact except with his cell mate.

Arnett, 31, worked at the Maximum Life Skills Academy. Authorities said he was hit on the head with a baseball bat and stuffed into a closet. The two youths allegedly fled the scene in the academy's van with some items that could be pawned.

In his ruling reducing the capital homicide charge against Graham, Westfall agreed with defense attorneys that preliminary hearing testimony did not indicate that Graham intended to kill Arnett.

He cited testimony that indicated Graham only wanted to incapacitate the counselor and escape.

Westfall also said the choice of weapon did not clearly indicate intent to kill because a baseball bat is not an inherently dangerous weapon.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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