PRICE — Carbon County prosecutors have determined that a Price man was defending himself when he stabbed another man to death in May.
The finding led to Jordan Wilcox's release Thursday from the Carbon County Jail, where he had been held since his arrest for investigation of murder in lieu of $25,000 bail.
"At this time, the state has insufficient evidence to support a prosecution on the basis that Wilcox’s actions were something other than that of self-defense," Carbon County prosecutor Jeremy Humes told the Deseret News.
The decision drew criticism from the father of the man Wilcox killed.
"I don't see how it was self-defense, I really don't," said Kirk D. Patrick.
Wilcox, 21, fatally stabbed Ryan Douglas Patrick during a May 4 altercation in the driveway of a home at 390 N. 100 East.
Price police arrived at the home minutes after the stabbing. Wilcox admitted his involvement and told the first officer he encountered, "It was self-defense. He threatened my life," according to a copy of the officer's report obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request.
Wilcox was arrested and jailed.
But prosecutors held off on deciding whether to file charges for more than two months while detectives continued to investigate the case.
That investigation uncovered "a number of witnesses" who provided authorities with what Humes described as "critical information" about Wilcox and Patrick's actions in the hours before the stabbing.
"Some of these witnesses have no connection to the parties and have no apparent biases," the prosecutor said.
Police discovered that Patrick, 32, and another man borrowed Wilcox's car about noon on the day of the stabbing. Patrick and the other man got into a dispute with someone else about three hours later, and Patrick threatened that individual with a weapon, Humes said.
Patrick and his friend headed back to Wilcox's home. Another motorist told police the men looked like they were in an agitated state and were making an obscene hand gesture. They were also seen carrying two large kitchen knives out of a home and putting them in Wilcox's car, police said.
Then about 4 p.m., Patrick threatened Wilcox's life during an argument at Wilcox's home, prompting Wilcox to drive away "to cool down and clean out the car," Humes said.
"While cleaning the car, Wilcox discovered the two knives," the prosecutor said.
Wilcox returned home about 20 minutes later and was attacked by Patrick while he was still seated in his car, a witness told police.
"Wilcox displayed the knives he had found in the car in an attempt to stop Patrick’s aggression," Humes said.
There was a struggle for the knives and Patrick sustained a cut to his ear. Wilcox tried to get out of his car, but a witness said Patrick pinned him with the vehicle's door and continued his attack.
"Wilcox stabbed Patrick (once) in the shoulder, and this wound caused Patrick’s death," Humes said. "A witness observed much of the altercation and confirmed Patrick’s aggression."
Toxicology tests revealed Patrick had methamphetamine, Valium, morphine and a high level of alcohol in his system at the time of his death, Humes said. By contrast, toxicology tests performed on samples taken from Wilcox after the stabbing showed no evidence of drug or alcohol use, the prosecutor said.
Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate said the wait for the toxicology results caused much of the two-month delay in deciding whether to prosecute Wilcox. However, once prosecutors realized that they might be looking at a case of self defense, Strate said, they asked to have Wilcox's bail reduced from $200,000 to $25,000.
A judge approved the request, but Wilcox remained in jail.
State court records show Patrick was on probation at the time of his death for his August 2011 guilty pleas in 7th District Court to charges of theft, a third-degree felony, assault, a class B misdemeanor, and intoxication, a class C misdemeanor.
As a condition of his probation, Patrick was restricted from possessing or consuming alcohol and had to notify his probation agent before filling any prescriptions.
Patrick also pleaded guilty in January 2000 in 7th District Court to two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and had a criminal history that included convictions for DUI, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, court records show.
Kirk D. Patrick acknowledged that his son had a substance abuse problem, but said he had expressed a desire to seek help for it in the days before his death.
"The last three days I saw him before he was killed he cried and said, 'Dad, I want to change my life. I don't like living like this,'" the father said.
"I'd like to see a trial," the father said. "I realize I might hear a lot of bad things, but I'd like to see a trial.
"My heart is shattered," he added. "There's no justice."
Don Torgerson, Wilcox's attorney, declined to comment Friday on Humes' decision not to prosecute his client. Attempts to reach Wilcox for comment were unsuccessful.