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Trial may be moving forward in 2008 Bountiful slaying

Published January 8, 2013 12:42 pm

Courts • Man found incompetent now deemed fit for trial.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Farmington • A trial for a man accused of fatally stabbing a 57-year-old Bountiful woman five years ago may finally be moving forward after he was deemed competent to stand trial.

Phillip Joseph Simmons, 40, is charged with first-degree felony murder for allegedly stabbing Susanne Fry more than 20 times at her home on Jan. 19, 2008.

Simmons was found competent to stand trial against the charge in 2010, and was slated for trial in February 2012. However, last January, his attorney, Mark Arrington, asked the judge for more time to explore Simmons' mental history, as the man had undergone brain surgery as a child, something his defense team had been unaware of.

Simmons was subsequently examined twice, found incompetent to stand trial both times.

But on Tuesday, Arrington told 2nd District Judge David Connors that Simmons was deemed competent following an evaluation last week. Simmons was not in court on Tuesday, with Arrington reporting that he was still being held at the Utah State Hospital.

Prosecutors have said Fry was allowing Simmons to live with her because he was homeless.

Simmons told police the two had argued over a plate of food he had fixed, according to charging documents. Simmons said that "in his mind he heard the word 'murder,' and a knife came out and then he blacked out," the charges state. "When he came to, there was blood all over and the victim was lying on the floor."

A pretrial conference is set for Jan. 29, but no trial date has been scheduled.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller