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Utah man faces sexual assault, attempted murder charges as stabbing victim remains critical

Apr 29, 2022, 4:38 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 2:16 pm


FILE photo

SALT LAKE CITY — A man arrested for the nearly-fatal stabbing of a Utah woman — who remains unconscious and on life support — faces a list of felony charges included attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault.

Dontel Cowans, 22, has been ordered by a judge to be held without bail as the suspect of a stabbing that put a woman — believed to be experiencing homelessness — into a non-responsive state after she was initially believed to be dead. According to court documents, while she is showing some brain activity, it is believed she would not survive if she was taken off life support.

Cowans was arrested as a suspect in the violent crime after his 2002 Hyundai Accent with no license plate was parked near where the victim was found, naked and bleeding, in the area of Hampton Avenue, west of Liberty Park between State Street and Main Street. Blood was also found on the outside and inside of the abandoned car.

In charging documents police said the victim, who is a 48-year-old woman who has not been identified, was homeless.

“Detectives learned that the defendant has an issue with homeless people and does not like them,” documents state.

The victim had numerous injuries including a “seriously” injured left eye that “she will not be able to see out of” if she survives.

“Her nose is slit, she has multiple face stab wounds, and vaginal injury and bleeding.”

The vehicle was traced through sales records to Cowans, who told police he parked it there because it wasn’t insured and said he removed the temporary tag from it so people wouldn’t know it belonged to him. He said he had not returned to the car since he left it. He said he didn’t know how blood got inside and on the outside of the vehicle.

Investigators found a bloody fingerprint on the car that was identified as belonging to Cowans. Blood was on the two front seats but “more particularly focused on the doo-side of the passenger seat.” Smeared blood was also found the corner of the passenger side of the rear bumper while “a significant amount of blood” was on the ground next to the passenger door.

“A blood trail led around the curve in the alley, where a pile of clothes and a blanket were located that were on the ground, dirty, and had blood on them.” Blood was also smeared on a wall near the clothes.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Cowans’ residence where they said they found boots with what appeared to be blood on them and that matched a boot print found and documented at the crime scene.

A warrant was also served on Cowans and a swab used to collect DNA was used. It will be tested against DNA gathered from the crime scene. Results have not yet been returned according to police.

Cowans is charged with two first-degree felonies

  • Attempted murder
  • Aggravated sexual assault

And three second-degree felonies

  • Two counts of mayhem
  • Obstructing justice

“There is substantial evidence supporting the charges and clear and convincing evidence that the defendant would constitute a substantial danger to any other individual or to the community,” documents state. The court ordered that he be held without bail indefinitely.

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Utah man faces sexual assault, attempted murder charges as stabbing victim remains critical