Ecker later told detectives that he "let loose" on his friend and punched him twice.
"Once [Lopez] was on the ground, [Ecker's] rage continued," Unified Police Detective Christine Petty-Brown testified at that preliminary hearing. "He said he was sadistic and he enjoyed seeing Lopez hurt."
According to court documents, Lopez suffered a collapsed lung and a lacerated heart and liver as a result of the attack. He died of "massive internal bleeding."
"Usually when I see something like that it's a motor vehicle collision ... or blunt force trauma with a baseball bat," assistant medical examiner Pamela Ulmer testified last year. "I [saw] similar heart damage this week in someone who fell five stories."
Ecker was serving a term of up to five years on a number of felony counts stemming from a March 2010 arrest. Police found a hatchet in Ecker's backpack after he threatened a man's life at the Salt Lake City Main Library, according to court documents.
He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 15 by Judge Mark Kouris.