This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Jury selection is expected to begin Thursday morning in the trial for a 49-year-old man accused of killing a teenage girl more than 20 years ago in Heber.
Joseph Michael Simpson is charged in Wasatch County's 4th District Court with first-degree felony aggravated murder, accused of beating 17-year-old Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch to death on the banks of the Provo River in 1995.
A rancher found the girl's bludgeoned body on Dec. 16, 1995, near where North River Road crosses the Provo River, about five miles north of Heber.
She was naked, according to court records, and had been bleeding from her head and shoulders. Nearby, several large granite rocks believed to be the murder weapons were found covered in fresh blood.
After the girl's death, the case went cold until 2008, when more sensitive DNA testing became available.
In 2013, the rocks found near Beslanowitch's body were retested with the new technology and a "major DNA profile" was returned that allegedly matched Simpson.
To corroborate the evidence, Wasatch County investigators flew to Florida in August 2013 to get a new DNA sample from their suspect without his knowledge. They followed Simpson to a tobacco shop, where he smoked and discarded a cigarette, according to the sheriff's office.
The test on the cigarette proved another match. He was arrested in Florida, and has been at the Heber County jail ever since.
His trial, which is expected to last 28 days, is scheduled to conclude on Oct. 28.
Prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty for Simpson, so the maximum penalty he could face if convicted is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Simpson used to live in Utah, and this is the second time he has been accused of killing someone. He pleaded guilty to second-degree felony murder in 1987 after he stabbed a man 13 times a crime he said he committed in self-defense. He was released eight years later, in April 1995. He was returned to prison briefly in 1997 for a parole violation and was on supervised parole until June 2003.
Beslanowitch was last seen on Dec. 15, 1995, by her boyfriend, when she left their North Temple motel to get a bite to eat at a nearby convenience store. When she did not return, the boyfriend called police. Police at that time said the girl worked as a Salt Lake City-based prostitute.