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Elderly man assaulted in random Salt Lake attack, police say

Jun 14, 2023, 1:24 PM

FILE PHOTO of handcuffs and gavel...

The wife of a Spanish Fork restaurant owner charged with sexually abusing a teen employee has now been arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail after police said she threatened the alleged victim. (File photo)

(File photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — A man recently released from jail for assaulting a woman on the street and trying to take her purse is now accused of randomly attacking an elderly man in another robbery, leaving the man with serious injuries.

Robert Tiapula Liehr, 25, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Tuesday for investigation of aggravated robbery.

Police say Liehr approached a 79-year-old man near 1065 S. 300 West and asked him for money. When the man said he did not have any money to give, Liehr became “enraged” and told him to “stop playing games,” according to a police booking affidavit.

Liehr followed the man to a nearby Utah Transit Authority station and then “punched the elderly victim in the face, causing him to fall to the ground,” then got on top of the man and “continually punched the victim up to 10 times in the face,” the affidavit states.

Police say he then took money and two bank cards out of the victim’s wallet and walked away.

When police arrived on scene, they observed the victim had a “very swollen face and the right side of his face was purple resulting from the assault. The victim’s eyes were nearly swollen shut from the assault and the victim was transported to Salt Lake Regional Hospital where it was verified with medical staff that the victim’s nose was broken,” the affidavit states.

Officers located Liehr at a nearby convenience store and arrested him. Officers say he has a “vast history of assaults on strangers.”

In 2019, he was arrested for jumping on a woman’s back near 100 S. West Temple, knocking her to the ground, punching her two to three times in the face, and taking her purse, according to charging documents. He was convicted of robbery. Following several failed stints in mental health court, his case was determined to be resolved in March and he was released from the Salt Lake County Jail.

Two weeks before the 2019 attack on the woman, police say Liehr was attempting to randomly enter cars near 5900 S. State. When officers arrived and told him to stop, he fought with two officers, punching one in the face and taking the other officer’s Taser away from her after two unsuccessful deployments, according to a police booking affidavit.

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Elderly man assaulted in random Salt Lake attack, police say