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Utah man gets jail for setting Provo Canyon booby traps

Published October 17, 2012 12:59 pm

Court • Attorney says 20-year-old did not intend to hurt anyone.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A Utah County man's booby traps near a crude fort along a hiking trail have snared him 20 days in jail.

Benjamin Steven Rutkowski, 20, of Orem, was sentenced Wednesday in 4th District Court. The man will have to report to the Utah County jail within a week. He was also ordered to complete a year of probation.

According to court documents, Rutkowski and Kai Matthew Christensen, 21, of Provo, built two traps around a man-made shelter near the Big Springs trailhead in Provo Canyon: 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.

The Forest Service officer who noticed the traps while patrolling the area said the traps "could cause significant or lethal" injuries, court documents state.

Rutkowski's attorney, Richard Gale, said the two men never intended to hurt humans with the traps.

"They were just messing around, and it was just a stupid decision. When he realized and thought about it, he went up there and tried to disable the devices but by that time the ranger had taken them down," Gale said. "I don't think they ever really intended anybody to get caught in the thing. It was more games, capture the flag and military type stuff. Just a couple of boys messing around."

The men originally faced felony charges for making the traps. Both men, however, pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser counts of class A misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Christensen is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk