BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON -- Second District Court Judge Rodney Page has bound Brandon Fairbourne over for trial in the case of the bungled robbery turned murder of Matthew John Whicker at the Woods Cross Motel 6 in 1996.
Page ruled the state has sufficient evidence against the 19 year-old man to take the case to trial. "Mr. Fairbourne was found on numerous occasions to have talked about what we have termed the Motel 6 homicide," Page said. "There is probable cause to find this defendant acted as a participant in the homicide."
Whicker, 30 was the night clerk at the Motel 6 when he was killed in what police believe was a burglary gone awry back on Oct. 29, 1996.
A fellow jail inmate, David Watson, testified last week that he heard Fairbourne talk about the robbery and acknowledge he was at the motel that night.
Others offered testimony that Fairbourne had talked about the robbery, the amount of money taken and even about melting down the murder weapon.
The hearing had been rescheduled after one witness asked for time to confer with an attorney. In January, Amy Sabo, a Woods Cross High schoolmate testified that Fairbourne had bragged about being there and laughing about it.
Prosecutors had a major setback last year when the Utah Supreme Court threw out the confession of the alleged trigger man Todd Jeremy Rettenberger because it was obtained involuntarily, using false statements, threats and suggestive hypnosis to coerce him.
However, prosecutors maintain they have enough evidence to proceed with the case. Rettenberger will stand trial on charges of murder and aggravated robbery. Fairbourne and Justin Schulba, 20, were arrested in December.
Partway through Schulba's preliminary hearing, charges were dismissed against him without prejudice, meaning they could be refiled.
In both cases, conversations linking the men to the murders were held long after the murder took place.
Following the hearing, Schulba left to return home to California.
Whicker, 30, was a desk clerk at Motel 6, 2433 S. 800 West, when two men entered the lobby about 9 p.m., allegedly to rob the motel. Police believe a scuffle ensued and Whicker was shot by one of the men. The motel manager heard the shots from his on-site apartment but could not save Whicker. He left behind a widow and two children.
Todd Jeremy Rettenberger and Scott Johnson were arrested shortly after the shooting and have been in jail since.
Charges against Johnson were dropped.