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Slaying upsets quiet of Provo neighborhood
However, yelling wasn't unusual at scene of beating

PROVO -- Lee O'Neal says he has grown accustomed to loud fighting words coming from the house next door. But shouts and screams from the brown-brick rental Thursday night prompted him to peek out his window into the rainy night.

O'Neal, who moved to a white-brick duplex one month ago, glanced out in time to see a man driving away from the house at 555 W. 300 South in a hurry."Hearing fights was a common occurrence, like every weekend," he said. "When (the shouting) stopped I looked outside, and a white car pulled away."

In a few minutes, he said, red-and-blue lights from Provo police cars were flashing outside. A passer-by had witnessed an altercation between two men in front of the west Provo home and called police.

Scott R. Straw, found unconscious on the grass in front of the home, was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center where he died about 10 hours later from severe head trauma.

Kevin D. Mortensen, 42, of Pleasant Grove, was jailed early Friday morning for investigation of aggravated assault.

For now, police remain mum about the reason for the altercation. And neighbors contacted by the Deseret News only knew the 48-year-old Straw in passing.

"I've seen him a few times," said Mike Coleman, who lives in the apartment complex adjacent to the house where Straw was found. "Maybe I should have gotten to know him better."

Dan Finley heard of the incident from his letter carrier. He lives about a half block away on 500 West. "It's generally a quiet community," he said, shaking his head at the news. "A good share of the occupants of the homes around here are elderly."

Jaime Finnegan, who lives across the street from where Straw was found, says police are seen often at the house, which stands a stone's throw from an elementary school and a church.

"It actually is a quiet neighborhood," said Finnegan, who was not home at the time police found Straw's body. "I feel very safe here. It's not the best of neighborhoods, but I don't feel unsafe."

"I'm very surprised that would happen in this area," said Jennifer Swenson, a Brigham Young University student living in apartments around the corner from Straw's rented house. "It seems to be pretty quiet around here."