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Witness says Utah man accused of murdering Michael Workman confessed to stabbing

Published February 8, 2013 12:59 pm

Courts • Suspect's friend says he stabbed Workman while he was on the ground.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It started as a drunken fight between a group of friends and an angry stranger in the parking lot of an LDS church in Holladay, and it ended with 25-year-old Michael Workman lying dead in the grass — where the sprinklers would later wash away his blood.

One man involved in that brawl, 18-year-old Talon L. Hamann, is accused of bringing a knife to the fistfight and stabbing Workman multiple times after his friends, Austin S. Taylor and Ryan G. Curtz, knocked Workman to the ground.

After a daylong preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court on Friday, Judge Ann Boyden decided that the felony charges of first-degree murder, second-degree obstruction of justice and third-degree tampering with a witness carried enough evidence for a criminal trial. Hamann will enter a plea to those charges at an arraignment set for Feb. 15. The families of Workman and Hamann were in the courtroom Friday. Both families declined to comment.

Witnesses who testified at the hearing differed on the details of the events that led up to Workman's death in the early morning hours of Aug. 23, but the general consensus was that Workman got into an argument with Hamann over an injury to Hamann's friend Petra Elkaz earlier that night.

Kelsey Boren said she and Elkaz, her friend at the time, went to a party at the house across the street from the church on the 1600 block of Delaware Lane (4945 South). There they met Workman for the first time. After a night of drinking and smoking marijuana, she and Workman hit it off, Boren said. Elkaz grew angry after Boren decided to go home with Workman, leaving her alone.

Boren said Elkaz went into a bathroom at the party and punched a wall, causing her hand to bleed.

However, Elkaz testified that her hand was bleeding because Workman had pushed her after she refused his requests to kiss him and to lift up her skirt. She said that her hand broke a mirror after she was pushed.

Elkaz used Workman's cellphone to call Hamann, whom she had known since childhood, and asked him to pick her up.

As Workman and Boren were getting ready to leave the party, Hamann called Workman and asked him what had happened to Elkaz's hand, Boren testified. Workman walked across the street from the party and confronted Hamann, Taylor, Curtz, Elkaz and Shalynn Caro, who drove the men to the church parking lot.

The argument escalated into a shoving match that angered Boren. She left and walked home by herself. Then a brief struggle ensued between Hamann and Workman over a knife Hamann was holding. After the struggle, Workman turned his sights on Curtz and Taylor, who each landed blows on Workman until he was on the ground. At that point, Hamann joined in. It wasn't until later that Curtz and Taylor realized Hamann did more than punch Workman, the men testified.

"When I got in the car, I noticed there was a giant wet spot on my pants," Curtz said. "I said, 'Talon, did you stab that guy?'"

Hamann slumped into his seat and said he did, according to Curtz's testimony. Taylor, Caro and Elkaz — who also were in the car — testified of a similar exchange in which Hamann admitted to the stabbing.

Assistant Medical Examiner Julie Schrader testified Friday that Workman was stabbed eight times, with two fatal wounds to the chest and to the back that she determined were the cause of his death. He would have died within minutes, she said.

The group would later drive Curtz home while the rest of them went to a friend's house to change their clothes. The next day, they burned Curtz's clothes. Elkaz testified that she later heard Hamann telling someone on the phone that "it was taken care of" and that he threw the knife into Utah Lake

Boren, who left before Workman was killed, decided to come forward to the police after she heard about Workman's death. She called Hamann, and he told her that he stabbed him. Elkaz, who was with Hamann when Boren called, said that he started crying when he found out that Workman was dead.

"[Hamann] said he tried to stab him as far down as he could," Boren said.

He also told her not to "snitch," but she reported what she saw to a Unified Police Department detective.

"Does that make you a snitch?" asked Deputy District Attorney James Cope.

"I don't care," Boren replied.

Taylor and Curtz were charged with obstructing justice and misdemeanor assault in connection with the murder. They pleaded guilty in December and, as part of a plea deal, agreed to testify against Hamann.

They were sentenced to 41 days in jail, three years of probation and 150 hours of community service.

Caro was arrested for obstruction of justice but was never charged. Elkaz testified that she initially told investigators a fabricated story when she was contacted but avoided prosecution after she agreed to testify against Hamann under oath.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kimballbennion