clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Salem man to be tried in murder attempt

A Salem man will stand trial in December on charges of trying to kill a Utah County sheriff's detective during a five-hour standoff with police in July.

Following a preliminary hearing Monday in 4th District Court, Paul Finn Rasmussen, 25, pleaded not guilty to aggravated attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping, first-degree felonies. His trial is scheduled for Dec. 8.Sheriff's detectives Jerry Monson and Deke Taylor testified Monday that they went to Rasmussen's Salem home on July 23 to serve a search warrant on suspicion of stolen property. When they found the property in the garage, they attempted to arrest Rasmussen.

However, they testified that Rasmussen grabbed a large hunting knife off a work table and came at them, proclaiming he would not be arrested. The two officers pulled their guns, and Taylor said he was about to fire when Rasmussen's girlfriend jumped in front of Rasmussen.

"I would have shot him had she not stood between us, without a doubt," Taylor testified.

Rasmussen then pulled his girlfriend to him and held her at knifepoint in the corner of the garage. The detectives said Rasmussen taped the knife to his right hand and tried to get his girlfriend to hold a knife, but she refused.

Other officers were summoned to the scene, one with a police dog, and Rasmussen allegedly held them at bay for almost five hours. During the standoff, his girlfriend attempted to leave once to get a cellular phone and once a drink, but he apparently wouldn't let her go.

The detectives said Rasmussen's girlfriend eventually passed out, at which time Rasmussen put the knife in his back pocket and tried to leave the garage while holding her up. Detectives then set off a flash-bang device to detract Rasmussen and attempted to apprehend him.

Rasmussen pulled the knife from his pocket and attempted to stab Monson, detectives said. However, Monson and another officer pinned Rasmussen's wrist against the wall and took the knife from him.

In binding the case over for trial, Judge Lynn W. Davis ruled there is probable cause that Rasmussen used his girlfriend as a shield to keep officers at bay. The judge also ruled the evidence indicates Rasmussen was attempting to stab Monson and should have known his actions could have resulted in a fatal wound.

Rasmussen, who also is awaiting trial of a felony forgery charge, is being held in the Utah County Jail on $50,000 bail. If convicted, he could face a possible sentence of five years to life in prison.