SALT LAKE CITY — A man arrested in the stabbing of a criminal defense lawyer told police he was invited inside the house and attacked after an argument.
Police have booked Matthew Wall into jail on suspicion of attempted murder in the stabbing of Steven Killpack.
Wall, 28, has a lengthy record for theft and other crimes, according to Utah court records. It isn’t clear what led up to the stabbing inside Killpack’s house, police Det. Dennis McGowan said Friday.
The former federal public defender, now in private practice, was in stable condition at University of Utah Hospital with stab wounds to the chest.
Court documents show that Wall told officers he was invited into Killpack’s house and angered the 63-year-old attorney by disturbing some of his paintings. Wall claimed Killpack attacked him first with a knife.
Killpack left a trail of blood in is neighborhood while looking for help.
McGowan said police don’t believe Wall’s statements but were uncertain about the actual events. It isn’t clear if the two men knew each other or whether Wall resided in the same neighborhood, the detective said.
Wall’s criminal record in Utah dates to 2002. He faces unresolved shoplifting, theft and drug charges. His public defender from the most recent case, Adam Elmore, didn’t return a call from The Associated Press.
Wall was a resident of the Odyssey House, a rehabilitation center in Salt Lake City, around 2002, when a caseworker reported he was turning into "an outstanding young man," according to court records. He stayed out of trouble in Utah for eight years, but was then charged with three new criminal cases in 2010.
Killpack was one of the defense lawyers for Brian David Mitchell, the street preacher convicted of abducting Elizabeth Smart in 2002 for nine months. Mitchell is serving a life sentence in prison.
There was no evidence the stabbing had anything to do with cases Killpack handled, McGowan said.
Killpack headed the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Salt Lake City for more than a decade until 2011, when he went into private practice with noted Utah defense lawyer Gil Athay.
Athay said Thursday he didn’t know any of the circumstances of his law partner’s stabbing.
"Steve Killpack devoted his career to working for the indigent," said Kathy Nester, Utah’s federal public defender. "He was one of the original players in establishing the federal mental court here. We are praying for his speedy recovery."