An Orem man accused of beating his stepfather to death pleaded guilty to reduced charges Tuesday.
Strider Logan Diem, 34, was originally charged in 4th District Court with murder, or manslaughter in the alternative, and misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal mischief in the death of 79-year-old Melvin Rowley.
On Tuesday, Diem pleaded guilty to homicide by assault and aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, both third-degree felonies. His plea deal specifies that the two convictions will run concurrently. Diem faces up to five years in prison will be sentenced on Feb. 25, according to Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor.
Police say that on the evening of June 26, Diem came home to 1615 S. 400 West, where he lived with his mother and stepfather. Diem’s mother suspected he had been drinking and pulled a bottle of whiskey from his backpack, Orem police Capt. Ned Jackson said at the time.
The mother poured the whiskey down the bathroom sink, which agitated Diem, Jackson said.
"He started to argue with her; at one point, she says he ‘poked’ her in the nose," Jackson said.
Diem’s mother and stepfather forced Diem into his bedroom and shut the door. But he broke down the door and hit Rowley several times in the face, according to the charges. Rowley fell to the ground, and Diem climbed on top of him and continued to strike him as his mother tried to stop him by hitting him over the head with the whiskey bottle, the charges add.
Diem then took his backpack, left the house and rode away on his bicycle, Jackson said. Rowley told his wife he was fine, so she followed Diem out of the house and told a concerned neighbor to call 911.
When Rowley’s wife returned to the house, she found him unconscious and not breathing. She tried to perform CPR with the help of the neighbor; police officers and medics who arrived at the house continued efforts to revive him. Rowley was flown to Utah Valley Medical Center, where he died about 1:30 a.m.
Officers found Diem about midnight near his neighborhood. He was arrested and booked into the Utah County jail.
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