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Utah prison inmate pleads not guilty to aggravated murder

Published May 30, 2014 12:40 pm

Courts • Steven Crutcher is accused of killing his cell mate with a bedsheet.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A 33-year-old Utah prison inmate accused of killing his cell mate last April has pleaded not guilty to homicide charges.

Steven Crutcher was charged last September with first-degree felony aggravated murder in the April 20, 2013 death his cell mate, 62-year-old Rolando Cardona-Gueton.

When Cardona-Gueton was found dead in his Gunnison cell last April, it initiallly appeared the man may have committed suicide. But after an investigation, police and prosecutors believe Crutcher killed the man with a bedsheet.

Sanpete County Attorney Brody Keisel said in September that Cardona-Gueton was found "as if he had [hanged] himself."

Keisel had declined to discuss what evidence led investigators to become suspicious about the death, but said a bedsheet that was torn into strips and braided together was used to kill Cardona-Gueton, who had been at the prison since 2011, serving time for theft and drug distribution.

A preliminary hearing in the case was held Wednesday in Manti's 6th District Court. After Judge Wallace Lee heard evidence about the case, he ruled there was probable cause to believe Crutcher committed the crime and ordered him to stand trial on the charge.

Crutcher will be in court again on July 9 for a scheduling conference.

Crutcher is already serving a sentence of up to life in prison for an aggravated kidnapping charge in June 2009, according to court records.

According to the Associated Press, Crutcher attempted to escape the Iron County jail when he cornered a deputy at the jail and threatened to detonate a bomb if he wasn't released. It was later discovered that the "bomb" was fashioned from toilet paper rolls, headphone wires and a pencil eraser.

Crutcher was at the Iron County jail in 2009 on suspicion of stealing a car. He pleaded guilty that year to second-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property in Cedar City and was sentenced to another one to 15 years at the prison.

Keisel said that Crutcher and Cardona-Gueton had been in a cell together for just a few days before the alleged murder.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller