A man accused of killing a Salt Lake City woman last summer and dumping her body near Thistle in Spanish Fork Canyon told a friend that he had killed before and would kill again, the friend testified Friday.
Michael J. Patterson, 19, of the Fairpark area, will stand trial in April after pleading not guilty Friday to murder, a first-degree felony. He is accused of killing his girlfriend, Stephanie Woolfork, sometime around July 24.Patterson was bound over to stand trial following a preliminary hearing in 4th District Court before Judge Ray M. Harding Sr. The trial is set for April 27.
In court Friday, former American Fork resident Kenneth Hall testified that Patterson and Woolfork stayed at his apartment one night in July. During the night, Hall said, Patterson woke him several times to request keys to his car.
"He said, `I need to use the car, my old lady's sick,' " Hall testified.
Hall said Patterson told him he wanted to take Woolfork to the hospital, but Hall refused to allow Patterson to use the car. He then went to the basement bedroom where Woolfork and Patterson had been sleeping.
"She wasn't sick, she was dead when I went down to see her," he said. "She was not only cold, she was stiff."
Hall said that he and Patterson loaded Woolfork's body into the car and drove to Spanish Fork Canyon, where they stuffed the body into a culvert near Thistle. Hall didn't ever see Patterson holding a weapon, but he feared that the teen would kill him too unless he helped dispose of the body, Hall testified.
Hall said that Patterson told him, "I've killed before. I've killed tonight. I'll kill you. I'll kill (your roommate) and your wife if you want me to."
During Hall's testimony, Patterson remained calm with his gaze turned downward most of the time. Members of Woolfork's family in the courtroom were mostly silent, but several burst out when Harding said that he found probable cause for Patterson to stand trial.
Prosecutors allege that Patterson killed Woolfork July 24 or 25. Her decomposed and partially clothed body was found near a sleeping bag Aug. 24 by two mountain bikers in Spanish Fork Canyon. The body was identified as Woolfork's through dental records.
Dr. Todd Grey, Utah's chief medical examiner, testified Friday that he was unable to determine the cause of Woolfork's death because her remains were so badly decomposed by the time he examined them. He said only that he ruled out any gunshot, blunt force or sharp force to the bone as the cause of her death.
Hall testified that they arrived in Spanish Fork Canyon, Patterson wanted to dump Woolfork's body into a pond, but Hall said he knew a better place.
"I was afraid that he'd shoot me and kill me and put me in the ponds with Stephanie," Hall said.
Hall said Patterson was drunk and didn't help him carry Woolfork's body down a hill to the culvert where he left it. Patterson always remained behind Hall, he said.
After they dumped the body, Hall and Patterson returned to American Fork, where Patterson retrieved his belongings from Hall's apartment and then boarded a bus. Hall said that he didn't see Patterson again.
Hall drove around the police station several times but didn't report the slaying because Patterson had threatened to harm Hall's family, he testified.
Hall, who has an immunity agreement with prosecutors, fled after Woolfork's slaying and traveled to Montana, Washington and Kentucky before Utah County deputy sheriffs located him and interviewed him.
Patterson, who was being held in the Salt Lake County Jail for allegedly shooting Woolfork's roommate on July 25, was charged a short time later. The attempted murder case in still pending in 3rd District Court.