OGDEN — A Hooper man, who is already being accused of murder, is facing additional felony charges after prosecutors alleged that the man tried to pay other people in jail to tell investigators he was innocent.
Amended information was filed on April 18 against Cory Michael Fitzwater, 35, charging him with two counts of obstructing justice, both second-degree felonies.
With the new charges, Fitzwater is also facing a first-degree felony murder charge. Fitzwater, along with Dalton James Aiken, 28, charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of 28-year-old Brian Racine, who was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head on Aug. 16, 2018 at a transient camp near Ogden’s 21st Street Pond.
On Wednesday afternoon, Fitzwater was in court alongside his attorney, Randall Richards, for a hearing regarding his bail status. Richards filed a motion in the effort to have the court grant his client a bail amount back in April.
In response to Richard’s motion, prosecutors filed an objection to the motion, and in the process made the argument that Fitzwater allegedly committed new felonies while in jail.
Prosecutors argued in the motion that Fitzwater should be held without bail using the felony on felony rule. The rule stipulates that if someone accused of a felony is later charged with another while awaiting the adjudication of the first case, they can be held in jail without bail.
One day after the response containing the new allegations was filed, amended information was submitted to the court, and Fitzwater found himself facing two more felony charges.
Featured in the motion by prosecutors was detailed allegations that Fitzwater reportedly tried to bribe other inmates at the Weber County Jail to tell police that Aiken admitted to being the shooter.
On Feb. 6, members of the Ogden Police Department interviewed Miller Costello, who told police that he had been talking to Aiken, who, according to Costello, admitted that he was the shooter who killed Racine.
“Mr. Costello stated that the driver (Aiken) told him that he had been scoping out the victim and that Defendant had nothing to do with the murder,” the prosecutor’s motion says.
Costello and his wife, Brenda Emile, are facing possible death sentences and awaiting trial for allegedly abusing their 3-year-old daughter to death in 2017.
A day after interviewing Costello, OPD investigators interviewed Colton Shepard, who allegedly told police a similar story. Shepard said he had overheard Aiken tell his cellmate that he had shot “the homeless guy because he thought the victim had been reaching for something,” according to the motion.
At the time of the interview, Shepard was serving a jail sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of attempted theft, a third-degree felony. He is currently out of police custody and on probation, according to court records.
On Feb. 27, police interviewed Isaac Fazzio at the Weber County Jail. Fazzio reportedly told police that Fitzwater “was in the habit of talking about his case.” Fazzio alleged that his cellmate, Shepard, received a letter from Fitzwater telling him to “tell them you heard Dalton (Aiken) talking through the vents,” according to the motion from prosecutors. The letter also allegedly instructed the two to flush the letter down the toilet. Shepard reportedly showed the letter to Fazzio and asked his opinion.
“Mr. Shepard wrote Defendant (Fitzwater) back, expressing unease and Defendant responded that he would make sure his attorney got Mr. Shepard a good deal on his case if he would help,” the motion says.
Fazzio was being held in jail after shooting a 15-year-old in the leg in October. Since his interview, Fazzio pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault charge and is currently on probation.
Weeks after the interview with Fazzio, investigators drove to the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison to interview Bradley Eppley, who was previously being held in the Weber County Jail.
Eppley told police that Fitzwater had approached him to testify on his behalf, saying he would give Eppley $500 on his jail account and “whatever Defendant (Fitzwater) saved in attorney fees,” the motion says. Eppley also said that Fitzwater offered the same thing to Shepard.
Neither Eppley nor Shepard received any money, according to Eppley. When Eppley asked Fitzwater about they money, Fitzwater reportedly “became aggressive.” But when Eppley assured him that he told police that Aiken was the shooter, Fitzwater became excited.
Eppley added that Fitzwater allegedly “made indirect threats of violence” if Eppley did not do what he wanted, according to the prosecutor’s motion.
Eppley is serving prison time after pleading guilty to second-degree felony aggravated assault. Eppley and another man were charged after they attacked a man in an Ogden park, and Eppley used a knife to cut the victim’s throat before leaving him for dead.
The details of the new charges and the prosecution’s recent court filing were at the center of the Wednesday hearing regarding Fitzwater’s bail status.
Richards argued that the possible felony on felony ruling would not apply to Fitzwater because the alleged actions occurred while in police custody. Richards also said that Fitzwater was being denied medications by jail staff, adding that Fitzwater suffers a number of physical and mental health issues due to injuries and trauma he sustained while in the military and serving overseas.
Judge Camille Neider declined to make a ruling on Fitzwater’s bail status until a preliminary hearing could take place regarding the obstruction charges. Neider added that medical issues could change Fitzwater’s bail circumstances, but as of Wednesday that was not the case.
Fitzwater’s next court appearance will be for a preliminary hearing regarding his new charges, which will take place on June 18 in Ogden’s 2nd District court.