This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
On a December night in 2011, Robert Thompson heard a knock on his front door.
It was unusual for someone to be outside his Murray home that late, the man testified in 3rd District Court on Wednesday. But he was curious, he said, and pulled open his front door.
Sitting on his front porch was his neighbor, 45-year-old Alicia Sherman. He brought her in from the dark and the cold, he testified, and saw her swollen face. Her hair was matted with blood. She wore only a coat and pink pajama bottoms.
"She obviously had been hit in some way," Thompson testified.
He said Sherman then uttered, "Dan," seemingly in reference to her live-in boyfriend, Daniel Jay Folsom, now 54.
"I said, 'Dan did this?' " Thompson recalled of the Dec. 16, 2011 exchange. "And she said, 'Yeah, I need help. He's out of control.' "
Thompson called 911, and Sherman was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for brain swelling. She was taken off of life-support and died four days later.
Shortly after, Folsom was charged with first-degree felony murder.
On Wednesday, a six-day jury trial began and Thompson was the first to testify.
During opening statements, prosecutors told the jury that the woman was murdered. But Folsom's attorney, Robert Breeze, urged the jurors to keep an open mind.
"Don't make any conclusions," Breeze said. "… Prosecutors and the police jumped the gun. They didn't wait and assess all of the evidence. They didn't gather all of the evidence. They just jumped to a conclusion."
When Murray police arrived at the home where Folsom and Sherman lived, near 600 West and Spacerama Drive (5685 South), Folsom had reddish-brown stains on his clothes, according to testimony at a December 2012 preliminary hearing.
"He stated he had eaten a hamburger," Officer Dale Rodeback said during the hearing.
At the police station, Folsom said he did not know why he had been arrested and told a detective that he could not remember what he had done that night after drinking at a friend's house.
The friend testified at the preliminary hearing that he and Folsom drank five or six Bud Lights apiece and split nearly an entire liter of cheap Canadian whiskey that night.
When Folsom was arrested more than five hours later, his blood-alcohol content was 0.09, just above the legal limit for driving, but Breeze has said it might have been closer to 0.22 at the time of the alleged crime.
Breeze argued at the preliminary hearing that Folsom should be facing a lesser manslaughter charge, saying, "There's just no evidence on intent."
In January 2012, while unsuccessfully arguing for a reduction in his client's $1 million bail, Breeze claimed Folsom was acting in self-defense.
"He was highly intoxicated, sitting on his couch and he was attacked," Breeze told a judge. "We believe he was bitten on his nose at which point he came out of his stupor and landed five strikes."
Sherman's friends have said the fatal attack wasn't the first time Folsom had injured Sherman.
"He's beat her so many times," Annette Winward said outside of court in January 2012. "He said he would quit drinking. So she came back to him and this was the result cold-blooded murder."