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Utah man sentenced to life in prison for murdering girlfriend, mutilating her body

Published May 21, 2013 6:57 am

No chance of parole after killing ex-girlfriend in October, driving to Washington state to confess.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A 44-year-old Orem man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally stabbing his live-in girlfriend last year and mutilating her body, a judge ruled Monday.

To escape the death penalty, Steven Gray pleaded guilty in March to first-degree felony aggravated murder and agreed to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the October slaying of 44-year-old Jennifer Brackenbury.

He also pleaded guilty to second-degree felony mayhem and third-degree felony abuse or desecration of human body.

On Monday, 4th District Court Judge Claudia Laycock ordered the three terms to run consecutively to one another.

Between Oct. 20 and 26, Gray stabbed the victim more than 40 times with five different knives at the trailer home they shared, including cutting her throat, stabbing her in the genitals and cutting off one of her breasts, according to charging documents and information from Deputy Utah County Attorney Julia Thomas.

Thomas called the case "really gruesome," and said Gray was a "very dangerous man."

Gray eventually dragged the victim's body to a bathroom, where he covered it with cleaning chemicals to prevent decay or odor, according to charges.

Gray then removed the clothing he wore while committing the crime, removed jewelry from the victim's body and partially cleaned the scene, charges state. He also attempted to seclude the body by securing doors and windows with ropes and other means.

Gray then fled to Yakima, Wash., where he confessed the crime to police.

Court documents indicate that on Oct. 26, Gray walked into the Yakima police station and asked to speak to an officer for whom he was once an informant.

Gray told the officer he had awakened from a "drug-induced sleep," to find Brackenbury dead from multiple stab wounds to the chest.

Based on that information, Orem police officers entered the trailer home and found the victim.

Later the same day, Gray confessed to Yakima police that he was the person who had stabbed Brackenbury and mutilated her body, court documents state.

Thomas said Gray has a history of domestic violence. A search of Utah court records show Gray's only other criminal conviction was for DUI in 2010.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller