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Orem man pleads guilty to setting booby traps on trail

Published September 5, 2012 2:45 pm

Courts • Defendant says he and another man built traps for animals, not people.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Benjamin Rutkowski, 20, pleaded guilty Wednesday to setting booby traps in the Big Springs trailhead in Provo Canyon.

Rutkowski was charged in 4th District Court with third-degree felony reckless endangerment, although that charge was lowered to a class-A misdemeanor with his guilty plea. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail, as opposed to the maximum five years he could have spent in prison for the felony.

The Orem man and Kai Christensen, 21, built two traps around a man-made shelter: a suspended ball of rocks and sharpened sticks that would "swing at face level of a person" who triggered a trip wire near the shelter's entrance, and a second trip wire at another entrance that could cause someone to fall on sharpened sticks protruding from the ground, according to court documents.

A Forest Service officer noticed the traps while patrolling the area in April.

Both men admitted making the traps but said they were intended for animals, not people, according to the charges.

Christensen was charged with third-degree felony aggravated assault but has not entered a plea yet. His next court hearing is scheduled for October.

mmcfall@sltrib.com