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.