One mental evaluation needed before trial issue determined for man accused of stabbing Bountiful woman 51 times

Oct 26 2010 - 10:42pm

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Phillip Simmons
Phillip Simmons

FARMINGTON -- Phillip Joseph Simmons, who was charged with murder almost three years ago and is a year back from the state hospital, sits in Davis County Jail waiting for one more mental evaluation.

Simmons, 38, is accused of stabbing Suzanne Fry 51 times with a steak knife in her Bountiful apartment Jan. 20, 2008.

Simmons was found by police about two blocks away from where the stabbing took place. He told police he got into an argument with the 57-year-old woman over food she had prepared.

Police said Fry had provided a place for Simmons to stay because he was homeless and out of work.

A mental evaluation was supposed to be done before this week, when his trial had been scheduled.

Simmons could be sentenced to serve 15 years to life in Utah State Prison if he is convicted of the first-degree felony murder charge.

But the trial was canceled because the mental evaluation, which may determine whether Simmons was incompetent when the crime was committed, has not been done.

It has already been determined that Simmons is competent to stand trial, which is a different issue.

On Tuesday, Simmons was the last case Judge David Connors called in 2nd District Court.

Simmons, Connors and Deputy Davis County Attorney Rick Westmoreland all waited for public defender Mark Arrington to arrive, but Arrington called to let the court know he was stuck in Randolph, where a snowstorm had caused a judge to arrive an hour late; consequently, Arrington was not able to leave.

So public defender Todd Utzinger stood in for Arrington.

Westmoreland said he has met with the victim's family members, and they are getting frustrated with how slowly the case is moving "They want the case to move forward."

Utzinger said he plans to present a proposal to Arrington "that could break the logjam."

Utzinger said there has been confusion on whether someone from Davis Behavioral Health Inc., or from the state hospital, should be contacted to conduct the evaluation.

Connors said he entered an order for a mental competency evaluation to be completed.

Westmoreland asked the judge for another hearing in four weeks and for the defense to bring back a name of the person who will do the evaluation.

"The victims want the case to move forward," Westmoreland said. "We do not want this dragging out."

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