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A Utah State Prison inmate was ordered Thursday to stand trial for, and could face the death penalty if convicted in, the gruesome slaying of his cellmate in August.
Timothy Patrick Maez, 38, after a two-day preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court, was bound over to be tried for aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, after he allegedly used a pen, a spork and a bedsheet to stab and strangle his 33-year-old cellmate, James Charles Corbett.
Prosecutors they are considering seeking the death penalty for Maez, they said Thursday, but they have not made an official declaration.
Maez and Corbett were housed in the prison's Olympus facility, which houses inmates who have mental-health issues. They shared a cell in the section for inmates who were stabilizing, testified corrections Officer Jeremy Levao.
On Aug. 10 at about 11:30 p.m., just before a routine cell check, Maez punched Corbett, slammed his head on the floor, stabbed him with a pen and cut him with a razor, testified Unified police Detective Brent Adamson, who investigated the slaying. The officer said Maez also told him about stomping a pen into Corbett's ear and that he had tried to stab Corbett's eye socket with a spork.
Adamson testified that Maez told him he strangled Corbett with a torn bed sheet, and that after the assault, he swallowed three pens, which X-rays confirmed.
Maez told Adamson that he stopped choking Corbett when he heard the door to the section open, about two minutes before the officers came to his cell.
Adamson testified that Maez also told him he hears voices, and a registered nurse at the prison, Karlene Tuimauga, confirmed that Maez took anti-psychotic medications.
Matthew Athey, an inmate from the neighboring cell, said he heard Maez shouting at Corbett during the assault.
Athey said he heard Corbett scream for help during the beating. He talked to Maez through a vent after the stabbing and before the choking and said Maez had asked him for advice.
According to his testimony, Athey told Maez to either get medical help or "finish it."
When officers checked the cell, they found Maez covered in blood and calmly holding a cup of tea, said corrections Officer Christopher Facer.
Corbett was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead.
Utah Chief Medical Examiner Erik Christensen testified that strangulation killed Corbett, and that the other injuries wouldn't have been fatal on their own.
Inmates, medical personnel and Adamson testified that the cellmates had wanted to be separated because Maez had a problem with the nature of Corbett's crime, which involved the sexual abuse of a child.
But four corrections officers testified that they were unaware of conflict between the cellmates or any request made by Corbett to move for safety reasons.
Responding to questions from the defense, corrections Sgt. David Hallan said officers don't normally know medical information or the diagnoses of inmates.
"We watch their behavior," Hallan said, adding that if he saw something concerning, he would bring it up to the medical staff. Other than crisis-intervention training a couple years ago, Hallan said he has never received special instructions for how to deal with inmates who have mental-health problems.
Defense attorneys argued that this homicide should not be classified as "especially heinous" one of two alleged aggravating factors, including causing a death in a correctional institution because the objects Maez used were the only tools available to him and they wounded Corbett superficially. But the judge said the "sheer volume" of wounds found on Corbett's body and statements Maez made to detectives after the incident were enough to convince her that the classification was appropriate.
Maez's arraignment was scheduled for March 10 with Judge Keith Kelly.
Maez was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in June 2014 to attempted aggravating kidnapping, a second-degree felony, and was serving a sentence of one to 15 years. In May 2014, Maez asked someone for a ride and, during a multistop trip in Ogden, threatened the driver with a knife before being dropped off, according to charging documents.
He was given subsequent sentences in 2015, for propelling a hazardous substance at a correctional officer and, in a separate case, for retaliation against a judge or Board of Pardons and Parole member.
Corbett had been set to be paroled on Sept. 9, 2016, after serving nearly 10 years in prison for two counts of third-degree felony attempted sexual abuse of a child.