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Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

Utah judge orders convicted killer to stand trial in 1995 Wasatch County homicide

By Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

Published: Mon, July 28 4:32 p.m. MDT

 Joseph Michael Simpson, 46, who already served time in the Utah State Prison in the 1980s for murder, was arrested in Sarasota County, Fla., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, for investigation of murder in the death of Krystal Beslanowitch, 17. Her body was found along the banks of the Provo River near Midway in 1995. Police believe she was beaten to death with rocks.

Joseph Michael Simpson, 46, who already served time in the Utah State Prison in the 1980s for murder, was arrested in Sarasota County, Fla., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, for investigation of murder in the death of Krystal Beslanowitch, 17. Her body was found along the banks of the Provo River near Midway in 1995. Police believe she was beaten to death with rocks.

(Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office)

HEBER CITY — A man who has already served prison time in Utah for one murder will stand trial for the 1995 beating death of a teenage girl.

Judge Lynn Davis ruled Monday that there was sufficient probable cause to bind Joseph Michael Simpson over for trial on one count of capital murder, court records show.

Wasatch County authorities traveled to Florida in September to arrest Simpson in the bludgeoning death of 17-year-old Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch. The girl's bloody and broken body was found on Dec. 15, 1995, along the banks of the Provo River near Midway. Investigators believe she was beaten to death with rocks.

Court records show Simpson, 47, was arrested by Clearfield police in August 1987 following the stabbing death of Paul Helminger and convicted of murder a couple months later. He first arrived at the Utah State Prison in November 1987.

Simpson was paroled in April 1995. Beslanowitch was killed eight months later. It would be almost 18 years though before advances in DNA analysis linked Simpson to the teen's death, authorities said.

Wasatch County prosecutors have already opted not to seek the death penalty if Simpson is convicted of capital murder in Beslanowitch's death. Instead he will face possible sentences of life with the possibility of parole or life without parole, should a jury find him guilty.

"In every aggravated murder case there are a lot of factors we look at," Wasatch County Attorney Scott Sweat said in April after reaching his decision. "We looked at those factors in this case and determined we would not seek the death penalty."

Sweat has declined to talk further about what led to the decision, citing a desire to preserve the integrity of the case and protect Simpson's right to a fair trial.

Simpson remains in the Wasatch County Jail where he is being held without bail. A date for his next court appearance not been set Monday.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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