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Alleged captive charged with obstructing Utah murder investigation

Published February 3, 2014 1:23 pm

Homicide • Police believe he and the murder victim were kidnapped because of a drug debt.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Prosecutors have brought obstruction charges against the second alleged captive in a harrowing kidnapping episode, which ended in the shooting death of another man near Snowbasin Resort.

Andrew Perry Beck, 33, was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony obstruction of justice, for which he could serve up to life in prison if convicted.

West Valley City police and the FBI interviewed Beck several times about the November death of 34-year-old Cleat Knight, whose frozen body was found by police on Jan. 7 under snow drifts near Snowbasin Resort in Weber County.

Beck changed his story to police several times, regarding events both before and after the homicide, according to the charges. He also denied involvement in the shooting, as well as his whereabouts and the whereabouts of other people before and after Knight's death, the charges add.

Knight was allegedly shot in the back by Christopher Leech, who then handed the gun to Beck and gave him the ultimatum of finishing Knight off or being killed as well, according to homicide charges filed against Leech and three others.

In late November, Tina Soules drove Beck to a West Valley City garage, according to the homicide charges. Leech tied Beck to a chair, then spoke with Soules and two other people — Viliamu Seumanu and Theron Myore — about how they were going to kill Beck and Knight. During the conversation, Myore revealed he was carrying a .40 caliber Beretta, but Soules spoke up against killing Beck.

After several hours, on Nov. 23, Leech, Seumanu, Myore and Soules loaded Beck into a truck. He was blindfolded and his hands were tied with wire, the charging documents reveal. Knight also was in the back of the truck, bound and blindfolded, though the documents do not say how he got there.

The four alleged killers, along with the captive Beck and Knight, then set off for Weber County. En route, "Knight pleaded for his life and asked them not to go through with their plans," charging documents state.

The group stopped near a gate in Weber Canyon, according to the documents. Beck and Knight walked about 100 yards, at which point Leech shot Knight in the back. Leech then handed the gun to Beck and ordered him to shoot Knight. If he didn't, Leech reportedly threatened, he would die, too.

Beck fired. Knight "was left alone where he was shot," the court documents say.

Police have said the shooting was apparently sparked by a drug debt.

Leech, 35, and Seumanu, 42, are charged with murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, all first-degree felonies, as well as one count of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. Soules, 41, and Myore, 42, also face murder and kidnapping counts. All four are scheduled to appear in court Feb. 10.

Beck does not have a court appearance scheduled yet.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda