CRIME

North Carolina man sentenced for 2020 murder of Utah woman

Apr 11, 2023, 1:15 PM

Joseph Fought, 33 from North Carolina. (Iron County Attorney's Office)...

Joseph Fought, 33 from North Carolina. (Iron County Attorney's Office)

(Iron County Attorney's Office)

IRON COUNTY, Utah — The man who was found guilty of murdering a St. George woman in 2020 could face life in prison, according to court documents.

Joseph Fought, 33, of North Carolina, pleaded guilty on Thursday to first-degree felony murder and was ordered by the 5th District Court of Utah to spend at least 25 years in the Utah State Prison with the possibility of a life sentence.

On Aug. 23, 2020, the Iron County Sheriff’s Office found the body of then-missing 26-year-old Stevie Wilkerson, of St. George, Utah. A Utah medical examinator ruled Wilkerson’s cause of death was homicide.

A few days later, authorities arrested three suspects involved in Wilkerson’s death — Maida Janet Martinez-Westfall, 37; Brittany Elizabeth Phillips, 29, of Missouri; and Fought. Eventually, all three of the suspects pleaded guilty to their charges, according to court documents.

Phillips pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder in December 2021 and was ordered by the 5th District Court of Utah to spend at least 15 years in the Utah State Prison with the possibility of a life sentence. She was also ordered to pay over $3,000 in legal fees and restitution to Wilkerson’s family.

In July 2022, Phillips sent an appeal of her case to the Utah Court of Appeals, which is still ongoing as of April 11, 2023.

According to court documents, Martinez-Westfall pleaded guilty to second-degree felony kidnapping and four counts of a second-degree felony of obstructing justice and was ordered by the 5th District Court of Utah to spend five to 75 years in the Utah State Prison in December 2022. She was ordered to pay the victim’s family over $2,000 in restitution.

Along with his prison sentence, Fought was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to the victim’s family.

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North Carolina man sentenced for 2020 murder of Utah woman