Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Billy Justin Charles appears before Judge Deno Himonas at the Third District Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Friday, June 19, 2009. Charles' sentence for his conviction of killing his fiance in 1996 was continued. Barton Glasser, Deseret News, POOL
New trial set in 1996 Utah murder
Courts » Billy Justin Charles allegedly killed his girlfriend, who was found dead in her bathtub.
First Published Jun 30 2014 12:10 pm • Last Updated Jun 30 2014 10:18 pm

A new trial date was set Monday for a Magna man accused of murdering his live-in girlfriend in 1996.

A jury convicted Billy Justin Charles in the slaying at his original trial in 2009. But two years later, the Utah Court of Appeals found that the now-38-year-old man received ineffective assistance from his defense attorney and should get a new trial.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

That trial is now set to begin on Jan. 26.

According to the Court of Appeals opinion, the court found that Charles’ attorney failed to call several witnesses who might have helped his defense during the 2009 trial.

State prosecutors then petitioned for the Supreme Court to hear the case, but the high court denied the request in 2012. Since then, attorneys have delayed setting a trial until Monday because of issues with forensic evidence, according to court records.

Prosecutors filed charges against Charles in 2007, 11 years after Jamie Ellen Weiss was found dead in a bathtub in her Magna home.

Weiss was 18 when she was found dead on Aug. 7, 1996. While she was found submerged in a bathtub, medical experts said she had no water in her lungs and had, in fact, died from blunt force trauma.

At the 2009 trial, Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey testified Weiss likely died sometime before Charles went to work at 6 a.m. But Charles told police his girlfriend had helped him start his car that morning, because he could not shift the gears on his car without help if it rested on an incline.

In his appeal, Charles said his defense attorney failed to present evidence that would have corroborated his story that his girlfriend was alive when he left for work.

The appeals court also found the defense failed to put Weiss’ cousin, who reportedly saw another car in the woman’s driveway on the morning of her death, on its witness list.

story continues below
story continues below


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.