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Trial for Utah man accused of double murder delayed

Published August 30, 2013 4:30 pm

Courts • Jeremy Lee Valdes is accused of killing Roy mother and son in 2009.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Ogden • A September trial for a man accused of killing a Roy mother and son more than three years ago has been postponed until next year as defense attorneys explore possible mental issues.

Jeremy Lee Valdes, 36, is charged in 2nd District Court with two counts of capital murder for the deaths of Matthew Roddy, 30, and Pamela Knight Jeffries, 53. He is also charged with second-degree felony obstructing justice, and joyriding and two counts of abuse or desecration of a human body, all third-degree felonies.

On Thursday, 2nd District Judge Mark DeCaria granted a continuance of next month's setting, and rescheduled the seven-week trial to begin June 3, 2014.

In the Valdes case, defense attorney Randall Marshall told a judge Tuesday they have three concerns they want to address: whether Valdes' confession to police was voluntary, whether he has a diminished mental capacity, and whether a mental defect may have resulted in a "false confession" by Valdes.

After an MRI and other tests, a defense expert concluded that Valdes has "frontal lobe executive dysfunction," which impairs Valdes' ability to plan, organize or execute a goal. This may allow Valdes to raise a "diminished mental capacity defense," his attorneys wrote in a motion asking for the trial delay.

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith told the judge on Tuesday that prosecutors have issues with the expert and may try to disqualify him.

Also Tuesday, Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles objected to the delay and read aloud from letters written by the victims' families.

"I really need some kind of closure," Miles read from a letter written by Roddy's father, Christopher Roddy. "It's like a slap in the face to keep this going on."

But on Thursday, Smith told the judge that while the victims' families were not happy about the continuance, they understand why more time is needed. "They want it done right, and they want it done once," Smith said.

Before postponing the trial, DeCaria asked Valdes directly if he accepted that he would sit in the Weber County jail at least until next June. Valdes said he understood, and waived his right to a speedy trial.

"I feel for Matt and Pam's family," Valdes told the judge. "I feel for everyone in this case. I don't want to further their pain in any way, but I do want a fair trial."

On Nov. 25, 2009, Valdes allegedly fatally stabbed Roddy during an argument about stolen prescription drugs. Police believe Valdes then beat Jeffries, Roddy's mother, before leaving her unconscious with a plastic trash bag around her head, and stuffing her and Roddy into a closet.

Miranda Statler, Valdes' girlfriend, was charged with moving the bodies, stealing Matthew Roddy's car and lying to police. She pleaded guilty in 2010 to obstructing justice and was sentenced to prison for up to 15 years.

Weber County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Valdes.

all.justice@sltrib.com