A plea deal appears to be in the works for an Alaska man accused of murdering a 92-year-old woman two decades ago in Utah.
Last May, Stephen Ellenwood, 41, was arrested at his home in Haines, Alaska, and charged with aggravated murder after a DNA match placed him at the 1993 scene where Grace Mae Odle was sexually assaulted and badly beaten inside her room at an assisted living home in Ogden.
Ellenwood appeared in court last Friday, where attorneys told the judge they were close to a plea deal, according to court records. However, a judge did not accept the plea at that hearing, instead setting an April 9 date for a disposition, saying that there were issues that needed to be addressed regarding sentencing recommendations and how the murder statute was written in 1993.
Prosecutors also asked for an extension to decide whether or not they wanted to seek the death penalty in the case, which the judge granted.
According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant, police were called to Odle’s apartment near 24th Street and Adams Avenue in Ogden on May 3, 1993, on a report of a sexual assault.
An employee of the apartment complex, which functioned as a multi-story assisted-living center, told police she heard faint cries for help coming from Odle’s room. When the employee opened the door, a man ran out, down the hallway and out the building, according to the affidavit.
Odle died six days later.
Several hours after Odle was assaulted, a 57-year-old woman reported she had been stabbed and sexually assaulted while walking to a bus stop a block from Odle’s apartment, according to court documents.
DNA evidence was gathered from that crime scene, but investigators were unable to make a match until October 2012, when it was compared to DNA taken from Ellenwood while he was incarcerated at an Idaho prison from 2002 to 2008 for an aggravated assault conviction.
Once Ellenwood’s DNA was matched to the second sexual assault, police were able to compare his fingerprints to a print lifted from Odle’s apartment. It was also a match, according to the affidavit.
Ellenwood has not been charged in connection with the bus stop assault.