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.
Leader County Editor Cari Doutre has reported this case from the beginning and attended every court hearing. The defendant in this case, Brandon K. Thompson, was sentenced on June 20, 2019, in Brigham City.
In this fifth article in a weekly series, facts and evidence discussed during Thompson’s sentencing provided by Box Elder County Prosecutor Blair Wardle offer more insight into what happened that fateful night.
The gun used to shoot and kill Michael Hogenson, 33, on April 16, 2018, in Tremonton, was a 9mm Smith & Weston handgun. The man convicted of shooting Hogenson was his friend, Brandon K. Thompson. Thompson was also Hogenson’s landlord and lived in the main part of the house above Hogenson’s basement apartment.
Information detailing the night of the killing was outlined during Thompson’s sentencing on Thursday, June 20, 2019, in First District Court in Brigham City. Box Elder County Prosecutor Blair Wardle offered details to those in court that day based on evidence collected at the scene of the crime.
The gun was purchased using money Thompson and his live-in girlfriend Kennedy Stuart had after selling a car. In was never stated who purchased the gun or who the gun was registered to.
Handling the gun was a problem for Thompson.
“Mr. Thompson was a felon and wasn’t allowed to own a gun,” Wardle told the court.
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. That conviction prevents him from owning a gun as a restricted person.
So why did Thompson have a gun that night?
“According to Mr. Thompson he was so scared of Mike that he was sleeping with that gun for three days prior to this event,” Wardle said.
However, that claim doesn’t add up to what Stuart told police, Wardle said.
“When Kennedy was asked about that fact she said, ‘I don’t know. I was not aware of that. I thought it was filing cabinet where I left it,’” Wardle said.
“So if that’s true she didn’t know about it. It seems to suggest to me that it wasn’t exactly true,” Wardle added.
The events leading up to the murder of Hogenson were detailed in the July 17, 2019, edition of the Leader.
What happened for the next two hours is somewhat uncertain.
“After the killing, his behavior is baffling,” Wardle said of Thompson.
However, Wardle and investigators were able to gather evidence and later piece together a few facts.
Wardle stated that Thompson threw the gun down an embankment behind the house more than 200 feet away from where Hogenson lay deceased at the bottom of the stairs near the entrance to the basement apartment. Police also recovered shell casings from the gun in a trash can at the residence.
Thompson then took Hogenson’s wallet and cut up his drivers’ license into pieces. That evidence was also recovered and collected by police. They also found Hogenson’s cell phone. Hogenson’s phone was found smashed with the SIM card missing.
“It was hit with a hammer to destroy it,” Wardle said.
Cameras were set up in the vicinity of the crime scene, but when investigators went to check footage they found that the batteries were dead. They were motion-activated cameras.
Thirty minutes after the death of Hogenson, Wardle continued, at 1:57 a.m., Thompson sent Hogenson a message stating that it wasn’t necessary for him to move out of the apartment.
At 2:22 a.m., according to phone records, Thompson talked to Stuart on the phone. However, Stuart told investigators she was asleep during this time frame.
At 3:28 a.m., Thompson called his mother three times and at 3:31 a.m., he called his father three times and was able to connect with him where the conversation lasted three minutes.
Two hours after the shooting, Thompson called 911 at 3:43 a.m. to report Hogenson’s death.
“He was not frantic. He was not distressed,” Wardle said about Thompson’s composure during that 911 call.
“I’ve been in a self-defense shooting and I need police to come out. I believe he’s dead,” Thompson told the dispatcher.
In that 911 call Thompson also stated that he had been scared of Hogenson for a “few days.”
Thompson confirmed that Hogenson was not breathing or moving. He was told to wait outside, away from the gun, and wait for a police officer. The dispatcher also asked Thompson to describe what he was wearing, a question that set Thompson off. He questioned why the dispatcher needed to know that information and “why it mattered.” The dispatcher replied that it was part of protocol.
Thompson also assured the dispatcher that he would stay at the crime scene.
“I’m not going anywhere. You don’t need to worry,” he said.
When officers arrived at Thompson’s home they handcuffed him and placed him in a police vehicle. Not long after arriving, officers from the Tremonton Police Department had Thompson walk through the events of that night, including the scene of the crime, all while he remained handcuffed.
The admission of his involvement in Hogenson’s murder was enough for officers to charge him with aggravated murder, a first degree felony, one count of obstruction of justice, a second degree felony, and one second degree felony count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.
Thompson was booked into Box Elder County Jail that day. He is currently incarcerated in the Utah State Prison where he waits for a decision from the Utah Supreme Courts’ Court of Appeals.