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Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

Prosecutors to seek death penalty in cellmate killing

By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News

Published: Mon, Sept. 1 12:20 p.m. MDT

 Rolando Cardona-Gueton, 62, was found dead in his cell at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison on April 20, 2013.

Rolando Cardona-Gueton, 62, was found dead in his cell at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison on April 20, 2013.

MANTI — Prosecutors have filed notice that they intend to seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing his cellmate in prison.

Steven Crutcher, 33, is facing a single count of aggravated murder, a capital offense, in the death of Rolando Cardona-Gueton, 62, who was found dead in his cell at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison on April 20, 2013. Crutcher was ordered to stand trial on the charge by 6th District Judge Wallace Lee following a preliminary hearing in May and Crutcher pleaded not guilty to the count.

Prosecutors filed notice of their intent to seek the ultimate punishment in the case in July.

Initially, officials weren't sure if Cardona-Guetan's death was a homicide or suicide, as the man had been strangled with a bed sheet, but the murder charge was filed after several months of investigation.

Prosecutors indicated at the time that race may have been a factor in the slaying. Cardona-Gueton, a native Cuban sentenced for drug possession, had not been Crutcher's cellmate for long before he was strangled to death.

Crutcher was serving a 10-years-to-life sentence for kidnapping an Iron County Jail officer. On July 1, 2009, Crutcher had just finished talking to someone in the jail's visiting area and was walking back to his cell when he grabbed a female corrections officer and pulled her into a port area between the main facility and a secondary lobby. As he grabbed the officer, he pulled a device out from under his shirt that appeared to be a pipe bomb and ordered the officer to open the door.

The escape attempt failed and the realistic-looking bomb turned out to be fake.

Crutcher, from Michigan, was in jail for stealing a car when he kidnapped the officer.

Crutcher's next appearance in court is scheduled for Sept. 17. It is anticipated a trial will be set at that time.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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