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Teen charged with killing Escalante man said he 'lost his mind'

Turn-About Ranch is pictured in Escalante on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. The Garfield County Sheriff's Office said a 61-year-old man died from injuries he sustained during an assault, and a female staff member was injured when she confronted the suspect. A 17-
Turn-About Ranch is pictured in Escalante on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. The Garfield County Sheriff's Office said a 61-year-old man died from injuries he sustained during an assault, and a female staff member was injured when she confronted the suspect. A 17-year-old boy was arrested.
Marc Weaver, Deseret News

PANGUITCH, Garfield County — A 17-year-old boy accused of viciously beating a staff member to death at a youth rehabilitation facility told authorities he woke up "heartless" that morning, according to charging documents.

Clay Brewer, who turned 17 in August, was charged as an adult Friday with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony.

Brewer, of Snowflake, Arizona, claimed he was coming off a serious drug addiction, was suicidal and "had lost his mind," according to charging documents.

On Tuesday morning, investigators believe Brewer — who had been at the Turn-About Ranch in Escalante for just five days — hit a counselor at the ranch, James "Jimmy" Woolsey, 61, of Escalante, on the head with some type of weapon while the man's back was turned. Brewer later told deputies he used a "metal stick," the charges state.

After Woolsey fell to the ground, Brewer continued to violently beat him, according to Garfield County Sheriff James Perkins. Brewer hit him an estimated 10 times. He then dragged Woolsey's lifeless body 6 or 7 feet in an apparent effort to hide him, the charges state, but stopped because Woolsey was too heavy.

Perkins said earlier this week that he didn't believe the attack on Woolsey was because of any personal vendetta. He believes Brewer wanted to escape the facility.

A second staff member, Alicia Keller, was also hit on the head once or twice by Brewer, the charges state. Brewer allegedly told Keller that he wanted to leave.

"I don't want to hurt you. Please give me the keys or something," she told police Brewer said.

Keller received multiple stitches to the top of her head. She told investigators that she believed Brewer would have killed her and other juveniles with her if she had not given him her keys, the charges state. Brewer told the woman that he just wanted to leave.

Brewer drove off in Keller's car, leading sheriff's deputies on a brief but reckless chase through downtown Escalante that reached high speeds, according to investigators.

There were many people in the community "out and about" at that time of the morning, "driving their children to school" as well as residents "standing in front of their houses and by their vehicles preparing to drive to school," according to charging documents.

"Brewer was not only a danger to himself by his reckless driving, but he had also been a danger to the public, threatening the lives of multiple people in the community," the charges state.

The arresting deputy noted in court records that Brewer was going an estimated 85 mph in the 25 mph residential area, and that deputies were having a hard time keeping up with him.

Deputies brought the chase to an end by performing a PIT maneuver on Brewer's vehicle, bumping it and causing it to spin out. The car also hit a tree in the process and rolled, according to the charges.

After disabling Brewer's vehicle, a deputy approached the car and found "Brewer pointing his hands at me as though he was pointing a gun," the charges state. Brewer also allegedly reached into his coat as if he were reaching for a gun.

Brewer later admitted to police that his plan was to make it appear that he was holding a gun, "so I could get shot to get killed," the charges state.

As Brewer attempted to crawl out the driver's side window, he was grabbed by deputies and handcuffed.

After he was arrested, Brewer told deputies that he "had a bad pill addiction," according to courts documents, and that he had consumed bleach the day before in an attempt to kill himself.

"He again stated he had felt heartless and said that he had felt nothing while he was being pursued by deputies," the charges state. "Brewer said that his addiction had taken over his life and that it controlled him."

Investigators interviewed Brewer a second time after he was taken to a local hospital. He told them that he began having suicidal thoughts on the second day he arrived at the ranch. He said he felt betrayed and that his parents didn't love him, according to the charges. Brewer said another boy from the ranch was planning to escape with him but changed his mind after he saw the attack on Woolsey.

"Jimmy's seriously injured, so the only thing I can do is run," Brewer allegedly told investigators, recounting what had happened. He also told them that "Jimmy was a great guy" and that he had only met him two days earlier.

A GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses for Woolsey was set up by friends in Escalante.

In addition to aggravated murder, Brewer was also charged in 6th District Court with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies; failing to respond to an officer's commands, a third-degree felony; tampering with evidence and reckless endangerment, class A misdemeanors; plus theft and reckless driving, class B misdemeanors.