On the Site:

KSL INVESTIGATES

2019 murder case headed to trial after prosecutors dodge Utah’s new self-defense law

Feb 8, 2022, 7:12 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:04 pm

...

SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors are expected to present a 2019 murder case to a jury this summer, after Utah’s new and controversial self-defense law triggered a several-month delay in going to trial.

Jesse Bruce, 43, is accused of stabbing 40-year-old Cory Haney to death in March 2019. According to court documents, Bruce told police he killed Haney in self-defense, but investigators reported evidence found at the scene of the deadly confrontation led them to believe Bruce was the aggressor.

Corey Haney

An October trial for Bruce was pushed back after Bruce, through his attorney, requested a new type of pretrial hearing created by HB227, which went into effect in May 2021.

Under HB227, people claiming self-defense now have an opportunity to get their charges dismissed without going to trial. Defendants can request a justification hearing in which prosecutors must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant did not act in self-defense or in the defense of others. If prosecutors cannot prove that an individual’s use of force was not justified during the limited, pretrial hearing, the case is dismissed before it ever goes to a jury and prosecutors are barred from refiling charges.

Bruce’s case was highlighted in a KSL Investigation that revealed unintended consequences of the new law, including delays in justice for victims of crime and their families.

Last month, on the day of Bruce’s scheduled hearing to determine whether the case would be dismissed or go to trial, prosecutors unveiled an argument to circumvent the new law by seeking to have the case classified as a case of domestic violence.

Exceptions to HB227 include cases in which an individual is accused of an unlawful use of force against a law enforcement officer and cases involving domestic violence.

While Bruce and Haney were not romantic partners, prosecutors successfully argued during a hearing on Tuesday that the two were co-habitants, a situation meeting the legal threshold to establish domestic violence as a factor in the case.

“I don’t believe that it’s appropriate, under the circumstances, to entitle the defendant to a justification hearing under the statute that we previously discussed,” said Third District Judge Richard McKelvie on Tuesday after siding with prosecutors on the domestic violence distinction.

Bruce is set to stand trial on a single felony count of first-degree murder starting on June 15. Haney’s mother, Kay Lynn Stafford, remains a vocal critic of the HB227, telling the KSL Investigators in January that despite the creativity of prosecutors assigned to the case, her family has still suffered unintended consequences of the new law.

KSL Investigates

An app called BusyKids allows children to gain experience with money before reality smacks them in ...

Matt Gephardt

Using fintech apps and debit cards to teach kids money fundamentals

An app called BusyKids allows children to gain experience with money before reality smacks them in the face. It's another option for payment alternatives.

6 hours ago

Power companies are not immune from the pressures of inflation and for us, that means we must pay m...

Matt Gephardt

How to save when higher energy costs have a third of Americans paying their power bills on credit

Power companies are not immune from the pressures of inflation and for us, that means we must pay more to keep our homes livable in these sweltering summer days. And those rising energy costs also trickle down onto us in other ways, i.e. an uptick in the cost of groceries as stores also have to pay more to keep the building cool.

1 day ago

a woman puts cake into a man's mouth...

Annie Knox and Mike Headrick

When toxins come home from work and family members get sick, who’s responsible?

Safety measures like hard hats go a long way on the job. But what about hazards you take home with you? KSL investigates who’s responsible when loved ones get sick from toxins in the workplace.

1 day ago

Harold Clements is one of many T-Mobile customers who say they were told upon signing up for servic...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Roy man says mobile carrier has hiked his rate in spite of ‘price-lock’ guarantee

A Roy man is one of many T-Mobile customers who say they were told upon signing up for service that their phone rates would not go up. Ever. But when the rates did go up, Harold Clements decided to turn to KSL Investigators for help.

6 days ago

Jordan Lee says about a half-dozen medical test results suddenly have appeared on his patient accou...

Matt Gepahrdt and Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt helps Utahn billed thousands for medical tests he says he never got

When a West Point man discovered he was on the hook for charges for medical tests he never got, he decided to turn to KSL Investigators for help.

7 days ago

With Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt both convicted of child abuse and serving prison sentences, K...

Daniella Rivera

Kevin Franke calls for child welfare reform after YouTube mom sent to prison for child abuse

With Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt both convicted of child abuse and serving prison sentences, Kevin Franke is breaking his silence in an attempt to help protect other families.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

2019 murder case headed to trial after prosecutors dodge Utah’s new self-defense law