Suspect in sex assault case pleads guilty

Stock image | St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A 21-year-old St. George man accused of breaking into a woman’s home and forcing her to engage in sexual acts pleaded guilty in court Tuesday morning.

Willow Wolfrunner Wood pleaded guilty to charges of felony aggravated burglary and forcible sex abuse. He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge involving damage done to equipment at the county jail.

Willow Wolfrunner Wood, of St. George, Utah, booking photo posted Nov. 21, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s booking, St. George News
Willow Wolfrunner Wood, of St. George, Utah, booking photo posted Nov. 21, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s booking, St. George News

The resolution to the case came on the day a pretrial conference was scheduled in preparation for a 4-day trial to be held later this month.

Deputy County Attorney Ryan Shaum said he had been in direct contact with the victim, a 55-year-old woman, until recently. The woman is dealing with medical issues. Shaum said he has spoken with a stepson who indicated that the family was agreeable to the proposed resolution the case ultimately took.

A sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 17.

The charges Wood pleaded to stem from a Nov. 21, 2015, incident in which he broke into a woman’s home through a window around 1 a.m., police previously told St. George News.

Once in the house Wood went to the woman’s bedroom and held a large knife to her throat, causing superficial cuts.

According court records, Wood told the woman he would “slit her throat” if she didn’t do what he said, which included engaging in a sexual act. At some point during the incident, Wood passed out on the woman’s bed. Responding officers indicated Wood was likely intoxicated at the time.

With Wood having passed out and fallen asleep, the woman took the knife from him and called police. Responding officers took Wood into custody without incident.

St. George Police Sgt. Spencer Holmes, who spoke to St. George News about the case, offered ways residents might protect themselves from intruders.

“If neighbors keep an eye on neighbors, that always helps,” he said. “I would have loved for her to have made sure all of her windows were locked, you know, had a dog, had motion lighting, had an alarm system, you know; something like that would have helped in this situation. I think he knew this victim did not have all that and targeted her because of it.”

The charge related to damaging part of the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility stems from January 2016. While incarcerated, Wood broke the sprinkler in his cell that is a part of the facility’s internal fire suppression system.

St. George News reporter Kimberly Scott contributed to this story.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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