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Title: Victims in beatings testify

Source: thespectrum.com, August 18th, 2009

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August 18, 2009

Victims in beatings testify


CEDAR CITY - A courtroom full of family members for both the defendant and victims heard a man charged with two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of aggravated burglary plead not guilty Monday afternoon, ending a two-hour pre- liminary hearing.

Zachary Frank King, age 23, will be scheduled for a four-day jury trial to take place near the end of the year or early next year. He faces a possible lifetime prison sentence for the three first-degree felonies if convicted.

King was arrested May 30 after being found in the home of friend and fellow Southern Utah University student Daniel Shokrian. It was in that home where Shokrian, age 20, and roommate Todd Logan Bryce, age 23, were severely beaten in the head with a hammer, according to police reports.

Deputy County Attorney Troy Little's first of six witnesses, Cedar City Police Officer Allen Harwood, said Shokrian's bed was "a bloody mess."

"He talked about things that had happened in the past as if they were happening in the moment," Harwood said of his encounter with Shokrian, who was still in bed waiting for an ambulance after the incident that night.

Shokrian's mother, Linda, testified Monday that she called 911 that night after seeing Bryce bloodied and King on her kitchen floor. The mother said Shokrian was airlifted to Salt Lake City for what the physicians told her were four hits to the back of the head, affecting his reading ability and vision. The 20-year-old testified Monday that he is forced to wear a helmet when standing or walking, and he is hopeful for a full recovery.

Bryce shared his memories from that night while on the stand, saying he thought he was dreaming about an attack until he was on the floor of his room, in the dark. He said his attacker hit his head with a weapon, which Bryce grabbed onto and realized it was a hammer.

After taking hold of the tool, Bryce said he tried hitting his attacker in the head and groin, but the man tried suffocating and strangling him before Bryce was able to knock him into a wall.

"I turned on the lights and saw who it was," Bryce said, testifying that he saw King and began screaming his name.

Bryce suffered from a concussion, needed 39 staples to close wounds to his head and had several other lacerations.

Cedar City Detective Nathan Williams, who interviewed King at the police station later that night, said King told him he "came out of it" when Bryce was yelling his name.

"He wanted to find out what he had done and why he did it," Williams said about King's reaction in the interview, noting the defendant said he had taken sleeping pills before going to bed in his own home and didn't recall every- thing initially.

Later in the interview, King told Williams and CCPD Detective Mike Bleak that he woke up with a plan to kill his two friends, who had been playing Dungeons and Dragons with him hours earlier.

Williams said King told the detective he was jealous of Shokrian's wealth, as King had trouble paying rent and his friend always seemed to have money. Williams said King also seemed jealous of Shokrian's writing success for Dungeons and Dragons, having written a new game that he wanted to publish.

In Bryce's case, Williams said King told him the two liked the same girl but neither would make a move, but Bryce went back on his word and dated her.

Defense attorney Bryan Jackson, during Bleak's cross-examination on the stand, said neither detective asked King if he committed the crimes. Jackson also said that King remained cooperative and helpful throughout his interview, from what he saw on tape, to which Williams agreed.

King is being held in the Iron County Jail on $500,000 bail.

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