By Ann Jantz
Via Wyoming News Exchange
SWEETWATER COUNTY — The trial of a Utah man accused of stabbing two women, including one who died, began Wednesday with the prosecution alleging the defendant can be identified by the only survivor. The defense claimed the state operated under confirmation bias by not looking for another suspect.
Bradley Ross Fairbourn, 20, of Draper, Utah, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He was arrested June 23, 2016, for allegedly stabbing two women at the Quality Inn off 1670 Sunset Drive in Rock Springs. Naisha Story, 29, of South Jordan, Utah, succumbed to multiple stab wounds. Linda Arse, 23, of West Valley City, Utah, was transported to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County before being flown to University of Utah Health Care. She survived the attack.
If convicted, Fairbourn faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The state has said it will not seek the death penalty.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Teresa Thybo said in her open statements that Arse will take the stand to identify Fairbourn.
“Miss Arse survived to identify her attacker,” she said.
Thybo also presented other pieces of the state’s case against Fairbourn: his DNA found on the knife handle, the victims’ DNA found on the knife blade, a spot of Story’s blood on his pant leg, and Story’s cellphone in his pants pocket.
Thybo said Arse and Story were at the motel to “sell massages.”
Defense attorney Rob Oldham said Fairbourn will admit he went to the women’s room the night of the attack but then left to get a drink and did not return. Oldham also pressed upon the jury that his client should be presumed innocent and the police and the state had a “tunnel-vision approach” in their investigation when it did not consider looking for another suspect.
Oldham noted Fairbourn, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, was not covered in blood, which is unusual considering the amount of blood found at the crime scene. He also questioned why Fairbourn didn’t leave if he committed the crime, pointing out Fairbourn’s car was near the scene and easily accessible.
Oldham asked the jury to find Fairbourn not guilty on both counts.
Fairbourn is expected to take the stand in his own defense.
One witness for the state took the stand on Wednesday. Geoffrey Fuderich was staying at the Quality Inn with his girlfriend during the night of the attack.
Fuderich said he was awakened at 1:15 a.m. by loud banging and screaming coming from the neighboring room.
Fuderich testified that he heard a female voice say, “Please, no, I have a daughter.”
Fuderich also said he and his girlfriend saw a woman lying facedown outside near his room when he opened his door after the police arrived.
Upon questioning from the defense, Fuderich said he heard no male voice and he never saw another person.