Defense: Mcatlin guilty of homicide but not murder in stabbing death of St. George woman

Trial began Tuesday in 5th District Court for Kevin Ray Mcatlin, 29, of Moab, who is charged with first-degree murder charge in the death of Elizabeth Carter, St. George, Utah, April 16, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Trial began Tuesday in 5th District Court for a man accused of stabbing a woman to death and covering her body with blankets and couch cushions in the bathtub of her St. George apartment.

Kevin Ray Mcatlin, 29, of Moab, faces a first-degree murder charge based on allegations that he stabbed Elizabeth Ashley Carter to death June 2 at her apartment on North Bluff Street, where she was discovered 11 days later.

Read more: Police identify body found in Bluff Street apartment

Prosecutor Zachary Weiland of the Washington County Attorney’s Office said in his opening statement that Carter was a mother, a college graduate and a woman faced with many challenges just prior to her death.

He told the jury that Mcatlin confessed to detectives that he “stuck her three times,” referring to the number of times he said he stabbed the victim and then “put her in the bathtub. I couldn’t look at her any more so I covered her up.”

Defense attorney Ed Flint began his opening statement saying, “Manslaughter – that’s why we are here.”

L-R: Defense attorney Ed Flint sits with client Kevin Mcatlin who is on trial for the murder of Elizabeth Carter, St. George, Utah, April 16, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Flint said that McAtlin did in fact stab Carter and caused her death, adding, “He’s still guilty of homicide, but it wasn’t murder.”

Flint told jurors he would prove that his client committed a reckless act after he believed he was being robbed, saying it was “an imperfect self-defense,” which is a modified version of self-defense that mitigates murder to manslaughter as long as a defendant had an honest belief that he was in imminent danger and force was necessary, whether that belief was reasonable or not.

Prosecution witness Anthony Maurer, of Jensen Property Management, who found the body and called police June 13, testified he received a call of a “weird odor” coming from the apartment.

“The entire apartment smelled absolutely horrendous,” he said.

As he continued into the small studio apartment he entered the bathroom where he could see a leg sticking out from under the blankets, and he ran out of the apartment as he dialed 911.

St. George Police detective Josh Wilson shows jury the Samurai sword that was found with the knife believed to be the murder weapon in the death of Elizabeth Carter, St. George, Utah, April 16, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Prosecutors also called Misty Langley, who was with Carter the night before her death at a get-together in Toquerville.

She testified she told police she saw Carter and Mcatlin leave together in the early morning hours of June 2. The last time she communicated with Carter was shortly after 6 a.m. From then on her calls and texts to the victim went unanswered.

Kacy Krehbiel, with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, testified that she found 15 “sharp force injuries” to the neck and one to the shoulder area on a body that was in “moderate to advanced decomposition.”

She also said the victim’s carotid artery was completely severed and her jugular vein was partially severed, concluding that Carter bled to death.

The state also called Michael Noorlander, a tattoo artist and friend of Mcatlin’s, to testify that he spoke to the defendant at Woody’s Tavern in Moab on June 9, four days before Carter’s body was discovered.

During the conversation, Mcatlin told him he was “getting locked up for the rest of his life” and that he had cut off a woman’s head with a Samurai sword, according to his testimony.

When prosecutor Weiland asked Noorlander if he thought Mcatlin was lying at the time, Noorlander said, “I hoped so.”

St. George Police detective Josh Wilson took the stand to outline the investigation and said that as soon as he saw the state of Carter’s remains it was considered a suspicious death and additional detectives were called to the scene to begin an investigation.

Wilson testified that Carter was identified by a driver’s license found inside of the apartment, as well as a large butterfly tattoo they found on her back.

They determined that Carter was killed on the couch due to the amount of blood found in and under it and what appeared to be a bloody handprint near the top of it.

They also found a fingerprint in blood that was on the inside of the front door to the apartment. It was sent to the crime lab in Salt Lake City for testing.

After speaking with Langley, the friend who last saw Carter at the party in Toquerville, police considered Mcatlin a suspect. When the fingerprint came back as a match to Mcatlin, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police in Moab arrested him June 16 at his grandparents house in Moab.

Read more: Police apprehend man suspected of murdering woman in her St. George apartment

The trial continues Wednesday at 9 a.m. with St. George Police Lt. Rich Triplett on the witness stand to continue his testimony for the state.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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