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Tremonton
Death of Corinne teen still under investigation

A night of drinking for a group of teenagers led to the discovery of a dead body in a Corinne park in Box Elder County.

On Thursday, June 27, at approximately 7:50 a.m., the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call of a deceased male, Marcus Elkins, 16, at Bill Flack Park in Corinne.

“Investigation reveals that Elkins did not die at this location and was brought to the park sometime after death,” stated the Box Elder County Sheriff’s department in a press release later that day.

According to the department, Elkins was last seen at 10 p.m. the night before near the park. After further investigation, the department offered more information on what happened.

“Sometime during the evening three other juveniles met up with and joined Marcus. As reported by the other juveniles involved, there was consumption of alcohol during the night. Activities took them between the two parks in Corinne and at some point during their movement Marcus collapsed,” they reported.

The report added that Elkins’ body was moved to Bill Flack Park where he collapsed.

Elkins’ exact cause of death and time of death has yet to be determined and the department is waiting for reports from the medical examiner’s office.

No charges or arrests have been made and the investigation has been turned over to the Box Elder County Attorney’s office for further review.

The department reported that all the juveniles associated with this case are from Corinne.


Leader/Andy Marchant 

wheat beet front page standalone

Local Boy Scouts lead the Garland Fire Department in the Wheat and Beet Days Parade on Saturday, June 29. See more photos from Garland City’s annual summer celebration on pages 7 and 10.


Tremonton
Legislators kick off tax reform meeting tour in Box Elder County

Utah legislators began a statewide tour in Box Elder County last week, sending a task force to Brigham City to meet with local educators, concerned residents and others regarding possible changes to the ways the state collects taxes.

About 200 people showed up at the Utah State University Brigham City campus on June 25 to hear from and share their thoughts face-to-face with the panel, which has been tasked with studying the issue and coming up with recommendations.

During its annual session this past winter, the Utah Legislature considered reforms to the ways the state collects tax revenue, but decided to take more time to work on the issue after many expressed concerns about expanding taxes on service-based businesses to make up for anticipated shortfalls in revenue from direct sales of goods.

As part of that effort, several town hall-style meetings were scheduled across the state, starting with last week’s stop in Brigham City. The meetings were organized in part due to criticism that reforms were being shaped by legislators behind closed doors, without enough opportunity for public input.

Dozens lined up at the meeting to share their opinions and ask questions, with many reiterating concerns about how more taxes on services might impact people’s livelihoods.

Box Elder County Realtor Stephanie Tugaw-Madsen said additional taxes on services she and others in the industry provide would ultimately mean higher costs for many who are already struggling with rising real estate prices.

“I’m concerned we’re going to price more and more people out of the ability to buy a home,” Tugaw-Madsen said.

Trevor Nielsen, general manager of the Bear River Canal Co., said tax exemptions for the state’s critical water resources should remain in place, but also said the organization could support an excise tax if the revenue from it were used to fund additional water infrastructure as the state’s population continues to grow.

Some were there to express their frustration with what they see as government overreach. Don Dunbar, a Box Elder County farmer, told members of the task force that “the power of taxation is the power to destroy.”

Dunbar said the nation’s founding fathers intended for sales taxes to be used only for public safety purposes such as police, firefighters and the military, “not to provide everybody with everything they need … I’d like to see government spending cut in half.”

A measure that was shelved during the recent legislative session would have sought to offset any increase in service-based taxes with a corresponding decrease in the state income tax, which is used to fund public education in Utah.

A sizable contingent from the Utah public education sector was also in attendance, mostly to express concerns about the potential negative impacts on education if income taxes are cut.

“Education is our collective responsibility under our constitution,” said Heidi Matthews, president of the Utah Education Association. “Children make up over one third of our population, and we must ensure we have enough resources for all students.”

Steve Carlsen, superintendent of the Box Elder School District, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to address legislators in person outside of their regular session. He also reminded the task force of the legislature’s duty under the Utah Constitution to fund public education, saying it “must remain the state’s top priority.”

After starting in Brigham City, the task force also held meetings last week in Salt Lake City, Richfield and St. George. Additional meetings are scheduled for this month in Kaysville, Roosevelt, Moab and Lehi.

Utah Sen. Lyle Hillyard of Logan, a co-chairman of the task force, thanked everyone for their input and reminded the crowd that no decisions have been made in regard to reforms, or on how the additional revenue from any reforms would be distributed.

Hillyard said the purpose of tax reform isn’t to grow the government bank account, but to strike a balance between those who oppose tax cuts and those who don’t want to see cuts in government-funded services.

“Our goal is to be revenue neutral,” he said. “We honor the constitutional provision that we balance our budget.”

State Rep. Francis Gibson, the other co-chair of the task force, said there needs to be a balance between taking enough time to study the issue and doing something about it before the state runs into more serious funding problems.

“What will our tax policy look like 20 years from now, and how do we address that now, when times are good?” Gibson asked.


Tremonton
'I had to choose to defend myself': Thompson appeals murder conviction

Thompson

Editor’s note: The murder of Michael K. Hogenson on April 16, 2018, in Tremonton, was the first the homicide the city has seen in over 50 years. The event shook the city and residents in an act of violence so rarely seen in the Bear River Valley that the Leader is running a series of in-depth articles about the case.

Leader County Editor Cari Doutre has reported this case from the beginning and attended every court hearing for the past 14 months.

In this second article in a weekly series, the Leader will look further into the violent past of Brandon K. Thompson, the man sentenced for the murder of Hogenson. This article will also report on what Thompson himself has said during court proceedings and what his attorneys, friends and family members have stated on his behalf.

Thompson was sentenced to spend 15 years to life in the Utah State Prison on one first degree felony count of murder on June 20, 2019. He was also sentenced on two second degree felonies, one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and one count of obstruction of justice, both receiving one to 15 years in prison. All sentences will be served concurrent with 425 days credit for time served.

Thompson is appealing the sentencing and the Utah Supreme Courts’ Court of Appeals has been assigned to review his case. Official reports from investigators over this case aren’t available to the public until after a decision on his appeal has been made.

Brandon K. Thompson, 31, grew up in Cache Valley, Utah, but resided in Tremonton where he was self-employed and owned his own business repairing and building automobiles. He also owned his Tremonton home, the site of Michael K. Hogenson’s death on April 16, 2018. Thompson admitted to shooting his friend (those details were published in the June 26, 2019, edition of the Leader) but Thompson’s violent past dates back years before, as cited in court records.

Thompson was convicted in 2008 in a Utah court for aggravated assault and was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, and was placed on probation. The year before, he pled guilty to theft by receiving stolen property in exchange for three other felonies bing dismissed in court. In addition to those charges, court records show he has more than 30 traffic citations and infractions since 2004.

After the death of Hogenson, Thompson briefly spent time out of jail walls after posting bail in a highly controversial decision from First District Court Judge Brandon Maynard not long after the incident occurred.

Thompson left the Box Elder County Jail on April 26, 2018, after posting bail in the amount of $40,000 despite the urging of county prosecutors that the amount be set higher — $100,000, to be exact.

Thompson was a free man, but that freedom didn’t last long. At his next court hearing, Maynard ordered the bail amount to be refunded and Thompson to be sent back into custody on April 30.

Maynard never stated why he ordered Thompson’s bail to be refunded and for him to return to custody, but during that time, a statement from the Box Elder County Attorney’s office offered an explanation.

“Brandon’s criminal convictions classify him as a habitual violent offender and show that he has a tendency to commit violent felonies, tamper with evidence and obstruct justice. These factors, along with new charges against Brandon for even worse violations of law show that Brandon constitutes a substantial danger to any other person in the community,” the statement read.

“The only thing keeping Brandon around is his relationship with his girlfriend, which has an unknown status due to these recent events,” the statement continued. “Brandon is a multi-state offender and has connections to other locations and does not have much to lose by fleeing the jurisdiction of the court.”

Thompson’s friends and family members, as well as his attorney, painted a different picture of the 31-year-old during his sentencing last month.

The day’s proceedings started with Thompson’s attorney, Diane Pitcher, speaking on behalf of Thompson standing by his earlier claim that the shooting death of Hogenson was an act of self-defense after he felt threatened by Hogenson for his own safety and the safety of his family.

“He is maintaining that he was being threatened,” Pitcher said. “It wasn’t his intent to kill him.”

Pitcher praised Thompson for his accomplishments, including the success of his business and skill sets he’s earned throughout the years that allowed him to be financially stable. She noted that Thompson has maintained a clean and sober life.

Pitcher also stated that several family members of Thompson called him “a protector throughout his life and his interest in protecting others.”

Pitcher read snippets from letters of support on Thompson’s character from friends and family members. Many of those letters stated that Thompson was always quick to help others, and was a hard worker.

“Brandon has always been sensitive to other people’s pain and he wants to help those that cannot help themselves,” Pitcher read from a letter from Thompson’s father, Kevin Thompson. “Brandon has always been a generous person.”

The one person to perhaps know Thompson best was his fiancé, Kennedy Stuart. Stuart was just one of many to offer support statements on Thompson’s behalf during his sentencing. Stuart was also in Thompson’s home the night of the shooting.

“We’ve been building a future and our life together for five years,” Stuart wrote to the court in a statement read by Pitcher.

“Brandon has always been a hard worker and determined to better his future and life. He strives to live an accomplished life,” the statement continued. “He is a man full of love and understanding.”

“Brandon is a beautiful and courageous person who cares about his family and found himself in a tragic situation,” Stuart added.

During the sentencing Thompson also addressed the court.

“I want it to be known that I feel horrible at Mike’s loss of life. I feel terrible about what happened and I want it to make it understood that I didn’t want this to happen. I want his family to understand that and I want them to know that Mike was my friend,” Thompson said. “I didn’t want any of this to happen.”

Thompson added that Mike was “perpetually aggressive and violent.”

“He put me in a very, very difficult situation when he threatened to kill me and charged up the stairs. I had to choose to defend myself and my family from his threats and attack,” he added.

Finishing out his statement Thompson briefly addressed Hogenson’s family in the courtroom that day.

“I want Mike’s family to know that I’m sorry. Mike was my friend. I’ve had to suffer just like you guys do. I didn’t intend for this. I just wanted him to stop,” Thompson said.

“Obviously this is a tragic case that has tragic losses. It is a homicide. That is not contested,” Pitcher said. “Whether or not my client maintains self-defense or not doesn’t bring Mike back.”

The family of Hogenson had a different story to tell about Thompson and the loss of their loved one. Look in next week’s Leader for that story.


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