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Man free for 13 years after Utah murder 'always figured I would pay for it'

Alan Marx makes first appearance before Utah parole board for 1997 killing

Alan Lee Marx
Alan Lee Marx
Utah State Prison

UTAH STATE PRISON — Alan Lee Marx said he never thought he had gotten away with murder.

"I never figured that. I always figured I would pay for it. I really did,” he told a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. "This thing has haunted me ever since it happened."

In 1997, Marx, who was homeless at the time, had been drinking with his friend Ward Woolverton.

"Ward had a bad habit of hitting people with his cane, and he hit me with his cane and I hit him back and told him to knock it off. And anyway, it accelerated. We were both drunk and it accelerated and went in a real bad place,” he said in a recording of his parole hearing held at the Utah State Prison on June 11.

But the case went cold for police for years. It wasn't reopened until June 2010, when DNA evidence led police to Marx. He was charged in 2011 and convicted in 2014 of manslaughter and aggravated robbery. Marx was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter conviction, and five years to life for aggravated robbery.

Marx's appearance before the parole board was his first. He told board member Clark Harms that most of the problems in his life to that point were due to drinking, something he stopped doing shortly after killing his friend.

After Woolverton's death, Marx took his friend's money and said he went to Wendover where he confessed what he had done to a pastor.

"I actually at first did try and turn myself in for it,” he said.

But because a body had not been found yet, nothing came of his confession, according to Marx. He went back to Utah where he lived for four years before moving to Boston. Marx said he then got married and moved to Hawaii.

It was during that time in Hawaii and about the time his wife left him that Marx said he told her, "I have things to answer for."

Marx said he talked to his brother, a recently retired state judge in Cache County, told him what had happened, and his brother then contacted police.

Since being in prison, Marx, now 67, said he has completed several life skills programs and become a mentor to others. He said he is now able to "think things through" and he doesn't "argue with people like I used to." Marx also said he has learned patience while incarcerated.

But the greatest change, he said, was when he stopped drinking.

"My biggest thing was the drinking. My dad drank a lot and I used to say, 'I’ll never be like him,' and I was,” he said.

Harms noted that Marx has been diagnosed recently with significant health problems. But there is still the "weightiness" of the crime for which he has to be held accountable. The full five-member board will now vote on whether to grant Marx a parole date.

Harms said during that hearing that based on the guidelines, Marx may be granted a release date for sometime in the next two years.