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Man accused of killing Santaquin police officer formally charged with nine felonies

By Carlene Coombs - | May 14, 2024

Courtesy Utah Department of Public Safety

Micheal Aaron Jayne is accused of hitting and killing a Santaquin police officer Sunday, May 5, 2024, on Interstate 15.

The Utah County Attorney’s Office announced formal charges Tuesday against the man accused of killing Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser, including aggravated murder, a capital felony.

The man, Michael Aaron Jayne, is facing a total of nine felonies, Utah County Attorney Jeff Gray said during a press conference.

Court documents allege that Jayne intentionally hit and killed Hooser while the officer and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper were making a traffic stop on Interstate 15 after a report of a person standing on the back of the trailer while his semitruck was in motion.

The driver also is accused of holding a woman against her will, according to a probable cause statement.

Aside from one count of aggravated murder, Jayne is accused of eight other charges:

  • Two counts of attempted aggravated murder, first-degree felonies, for attempting to hit the UHP trooper and the woman with the semitruck.
  • One count of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, for using a weapon to threaten and hold the woman in his vehicle.
  • One count of burglary, a second-degree felony, for unlawfully entering a home intending to commit theft.
  • Three counts of theft, second-degree felonies, for stealing vehicles while evading police.
  • One count of failure to respond to an officer’s signal to stop, a third-degree felony.

Jayne will appear before a judge Wednesday afternoon, Gray said, when he’ll be informed of the charges against him. After that, a preliminary hearing will occur where the county attorney’s office will have to show probable cause for the charges against him.

After the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if Jayne will stand trial. If a trial is to be held, an arraignment hearing will be next, which is where Jayne will plead guilty or not guilty to the charges.

Gray said if Jayne were to plead not guilty to the aggravated murder charge, his office would then have 60 days to decide whether or not to pursue the death penalty, which is an option for the capital felony.

Gray said that the burden is on his office to prove the charges and accusations against Jayne.

“Ultimately, it will be for a jury to decide whether we have met that burden,” he said. “I am assembling a team of my best attorneys to achieve that end.”

The formal charges come only a day after the emotional memorial services for Hooser.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to Sgt. Bill Hooser’s wife, Kinda, and their two daughters, Shayle and Courtney,” Gray said Tuesday. “This is an unspeakable loss for them. We mourn with you and pray that you can find some peace and some solace in this most trying of times.”

Jayne was booked into the Utah County Jail on Saturday after being released from the University of Utah Hospital, where he was being treated after crashing a reportedly stolen vehicle in Vernal on May 5 during a police chase after allegedly leaving the scene in Santaquin that morning.

Court documents released Sunday provided more details on that Sunday morning, including the revelation that Jayne reportedly was holding a woman against her will in the truck.

The documents state that while officers were speaking with Jayne after conducting a traffic stop, the woman jumped out of the cab, ran around to the back and then spoke with Hooser, who signaled to the UHP trooper that they needed to detain the driver.

The trooper then tried to open the truck door and ordered Jayne to exit. Jayne then reportedly locked the door and drove forward, leading Hooser and the trooper to run to their vehicles. The driver then allegedly made a U-turn and crashed the truck into Hooser and both patrol vehicles while also trying to hit the trooper and the woman.

He then escaped on foot and later allegedly stole vehicles as he traveled to Vernal, where he led officers on a chase before crashing and being detained.


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