Bail reduced for one man charged in fatal Utah stabbing
Tooele • Roy Coffey didn’t mean for anyone to die the night he brought his cousin to a fight outside a Stansbury Park elementary school, prosecutors said Monday.
He may have even tried to intervene.
That’s why Tooele County Attorney Doug Hogan asked a judge Monday to allow the 19-year-old be released on a $5,000 bond — a stark reduction from the $15,000 bail originally imposed on Coffey.
Third District Judge Robert Adkins agreed, but ordered Coffey to wear an ankle monitor and report to court regularly. Coffey, who was charged with obstructing justice in the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Jesse Horowitz, was released from custody at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
His cousin, Larry Beach, 20, who was charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice for allegedly stabbing Horowitz to death, will remain in custody on a $1 million bail.
Coffey has been cooperative with investigators since his arrest on April 26, Hogan said. Prosecutors expect him to be “instrumental” in the case against his cousin, and thought it best to treat him more as a witness than a party to the alleged murder.
“We felt [lowering the bail] was a sign of good faith on our part,” Hogan said. “We understand this was a very tragic situation, but we also understand that Mr. Coffey has been very cooperative, and we believe he will be a cooperating witness against Mr. Beach.”
According to charging documents, Coffey and Beach went to Stansbury High School along with a dozen or so other young men on April 25 to settle a dispute over a girl.
Before things turned physical, Hogan said, they started out virtual.
About 11:30 p.m. Friday, Coffey and a former classmate were exchanging messages on Twitter that quickly escalated to a challenge:
“Why don’t you say that too [sic] my face?” Coffey tweeted. “You know where I am.”
They and a dozen friends and supporters agreed to settle things face-to-face, outside the Stansbury Park Elementary school.
It didn’t take long — according to investigators, the fight was over quickly. Coffey won.
It wasn’t until the crowd began to dissipate and most present turned to head back to their cars that Beach allegedly began yelling at Horowitz.
Horowitz, a high school senior and football player on the Stansbury Stallions, yelled back.
Before long, court documents state, the two men were throwing punches and wrestling each other to the ground.
Witnesses told police that Horowitz was “getting the better” of Beach when Coffey attempted to break the two apart.
“He tried to separate the two of them before it was too late,” said defense attorney Stephen Howard, who is representing Coffey in this case. “Roy Coffey was not directly involved in the stabbing.”
Once Beach was back on his feet, documents allege, he ran back at Horowitz, tackled him and grabbed him in a choke hold. Witnesses told officers that’s when they saw Beach make stabbing motions as Horowitz went limp.
Beach, originally from San Antonio, Texas, had been staying with Coffey for about a week before the incident, police said. None of the boys at the fight knew him, although, they said, he had been bragging about being a member of the Bloods.
Both Beach and Coffey fled the scene of the fight after Horowitz collapsed. Horowitz died before emergency responders arrived at the scene.
Police believe the knife used in the fight was tossed into a body of water near the Stansbury Park elementary school where the fight had taken place.
Hogan said they have not recovered the weapon, but a search is ongoing.
If convicted, Beach could face up to life in prison for murder and up to 15 years in prison for obstructing justice.
Coffey faces a maximum sentence of up to 15 years behind bars, but a plea negotiation may be in the works, as Hogan said he will be instrumental in the case against Beach.
Both men appeared Monday with private attorneys and were scheduled to return before Judge Adkins on June 24.
Prosecutors have not said what motive they believe Beach, a self-proclaimed gang member, had in attacking Horowitz, but the NAACP has alleged the attack may have been racially motivated.
Horowitz was black; the rest of the group was mostly, if not entirely, white, local NAACP chapter president Jeanetta Williams has said.
Horowitz’s mother watched Monday’s proceedings from the courtroom gallery, surrounded by 10 or so supporters. She wore a black and white baseball T-shirt bearing her son’s name and photo. On the back, in big block letters, was his football jersey number: 21.