This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Panguitch • As he lay handcuffed to a hospital bed, 17-year-old Clay Brewer admitted that he had made many mistakes.
And it didn't just start with that December day when police say he brutally beat a Utah youth-rehabilitation facility staffer to death before leading officers on a high-speed chase through a rural neighborhood.
It started way before that, Brewer told a Garfield County sheriff's deputy in a recorded interview shown in a Panguitch courtroom Thursday during his preliminary hearing.
It started with a new set of friends made after he moved in the wake of his parents' divorce. They were older, the Arizona teen told the deputy, and liked experimenting with drugs.
By the time he was a sophomore in high school, he had started using chewing tobacco and took pills every day, several times a day. Those mistakes led him to Utah's Turn-About Ranch School, located north of the town of Escalante, in an effort to get clean.
And it was at that ranch, he told the deputy, that he snapped as he went through withdrawals, feeling abandoned by his parents and he beat 61-year-old Jimmy Woolsey to death with a piece of metal rebar.
"I wish I could go back and change everything," the teen said, according to the recording. "Obviously, [the addiction] took over my mind… I lost my mind. Never once had I ever thought of beating someone."
Brewer, of Snowflake, Ariz., is charged in adult court with first-degree felony aggravated murder, along with other charges for the Dec. 6 episode.
After listening to testimony and reviewing other evidence Thursday, 6th District Judge Marvin Bagley ruled there was probable cause to advance the case to trial. Brewer is expected to enter a plea to the charges on June 22.
Along with the aggravated murder count, Brewer faces charges of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, failure to stop at the command of police, tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, theft and reckless driving.
The teen had been in the facility for just five days before the deadly attack, according to a probable-cause statement filed in court.
In the interview played in court, Brewer told Deputy Eric Dunton that he started "freaking out" after his second day on the ranch and had drank some bleach in a suicide attempt.
"I just really wasn't in my right mind," the teen said. "I've never seen myself be like that before."
The assault began at about 7:30 a.m. at the facility, which advertises itself as a residential school and treatment program for troubled youths ages 12 to 18.
Brewer told Dunton that when Woolsey came to check on him and some other teens sitting around a campfire, he swung the piece of rebar and struck the man in the head several times."I paused," the teen said. "I couldn't bear to think about what I had done. I just stood there."
When Dunton asked him how many times he struck Woolsey, the teen said he was "so petrified" and couldn't remember.
During his testimony, Dunton detailed Woolsey's injuries, which he said were too numerous to count.
"The homicide of Jimmy Woolsey was very barbaric," he said. "Very savage."
After Brewer attacked Woolsey, the other teens rushed to a nearby cabin, where they sleep, and alerted another staffer, Alicia Keller.
When Keller arrived at the cabin, the boy turned to her, according to her father, Bob Rechtsteiner. A struggle ensued at the cabin door as the teen tried to force his way in, but Keller kept him out.
Keller held the doors shut so the teen couldn't get inside and hurt students, Rechtsteiner has said. The boy beat her hand, leaving fingers smashed and muscles twitching, and smacked her over the head.
Keller later told police that after she was assaulted, Brewer went to Woolsey's body and grabbed his wallet and his keys. He unsuccessfully tried to start Woolsey's truck.
The teen then returned to the cabin area, and threatened to break in and "kill everyone," Keller told police. The woman ultimately gave him her car keys so he would leave.
After Brewer took Keller's car, police say, a high-speed chase ensued, with speeds topping 60 mph in 25-mph residential areas.
Dunton and another deputy eventually forced the car to stop and Brewer was arrested. As he sat in a police car, the teen told Dunton that he hoped the police would shoot him, according to a recording played in court.
"When you guys were chasing me, I almost felt nothing," the teen said, adding that his addiction "took over my whole life. Now, I see that it really does control me."
Woolsey, a husband and father from Escalante, was taken to the hospital, where he later died from significant head trauma.
During cross-examination of Dunton, defense attorney Ronald Yengich questioned whether Brewer was under the influence of drugs during the attack. Dunton said he noticed the teen's pupils were very large and dilated, but said police did not test him for illegal substances.
Aggravated murder typically can carry the possibility of the death penalty, but prosecutors cannot seek Brewer's execution in this case because he is under age 18. He can face a maximum penalty of up to life in prison.
Because of Brewer's age and the severity of the crime, prosecutors were able to file the case directly in adult court, rather than the juvenile system.
The Salt Lake Tribune generally names juveniles charged with crimes only if they are charged in adult court, or have been certified in juvenile court to stand trial in adult court.