Death of comatose man spurs homicide investigation

Crime • Police have few leads; victim fell and hit his head after he was punched in 2006.
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It took one punch to leave Agoth Balbeck comatose. Six years later, he became the victim of a homicide.

On Nov. 8, the 36-year-old Salt Lake City resident died as a result of injuries he suffered during a June 10, 2006, assault outside his Redwood Road apartment complex.

Balbeck, who was born in Samoa, spent the final years of his life at a long-term care facility with no hope of recovery before he died of seizures, authorities said. His death was classified as a homicide following an autopsy.

Salt Lake City police are now searching for his killer in a case that long ago went cold.

Police Sgt. Shawn Josephson said Balbeck got into an altercation in the parking lot of the apartment complex where he lived, 625 S. Redwood Road. When someone punched him, he fell to the ground and hit his head on the concrete. Balbeck subsequently fell into a coma, Josephson said.

Due to the severity of his injuries, Balbeck was never able to help police identify his assailant, and detectives have few leads, Josephson said.

Few details were immediately available about Balbeck, including what might have precipitated the altercation and how long he had lived in Salt Lake City. His family couldn't immediately be located for comment.

"A lot of [solving this] is going to be public help," said Josephson. "Hopefully somebody remembers something or spoke with this suspect who spoke about the incident."

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 801-799-3000.

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