Two Charged With Attempted Murder Await Setting Of Trial

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A bloody confrontation over an allegedly stolen cell phone has led police through a twisted tale of a night gone terribly wrong.

William ‘Billy’ Sweatt was stabbed at least three times at his home in October, leading to the arrest of two Payson residents.

A jury indicted Brook Lynn Johnson, 19, and Andrew James Hargis, 32, in November on multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, burglary and endangerment.

Hargis and Johnson allegedly tried to kill Sweatt, Johnson reportedly stabbing him several times at a home on West Elm Street where a child was also present. Sweatt survived the altercation.

Hargis is currently being held on a $10,000 bond in Payson’s jail while Johnson has been released.

Trial dates for Johnson and Hargis have not been set.

Witness accounts of the night’s events paint a convoluted tale. The defendants claim they went to Sweatt’s home to retrieve stolen goods while Sweatt says he was attacked. Police believe drugs were a catalyst for the events, a claim the defendants deny.

A Payson Police Department report filed by Det. Mike Varga gave the following account of the night. At 2:20 a.m. on Oct. 25, Sweatt ran to a neighbor’s home, leaving a trail of blood through the street after being stabbed three times in the arm. Sweatt asked the neighbor to call an ambulance for help. When officers arrived, they found several people at Sweatt’s home and learned that a woman and man had reportedly entered the residence and stabbed Sweatt repeatedly.

Although injured, Sweatt refused to cooperate with officers on scene. One officer had to threaten Sweatt with his Taser to get him to go with paramedics. Family members eventually got Sweatt calmed down enough at the hospital for him to speak with Varga.

Varga learned that earlier in the evening, Hargis had been at Sweatt’s home smoking, drinking and talking on the porch. When it started raining, Sweatt gave Hargis a ride home Hargis reportedly left his phone behind, according to one witness. Some time later, Hargis reappeared, asking for his phone back. Hargis and Sweatt got into a fight. After the scuffle, Hargis left and later came back with Johnson, this time allegedly armed with a household kitchen knife.

Sweatt was alone in the home with a child at the time after several people had left for Walmart.

Sweatt said when Hargis and Johnson arrived at his door, an argument over the cell phone started up again and a fight ensued. Johnson, who Sweatt did not know at the time, started stabbing him and Sweatt tried to fend them off, running into a room to grab his pellet gun, which looked like a rifle. After threatening Johnson and Hargis with the gun, the pair left, Sweatt told Varga.

Varga noted blood splattered throughout the home.

“When I walked to the porch area, I noticed a black broken handle, potentially from a knife, lying on the ground,” Varga said. “As I walked to her bedroom (a tenant’s), which is the bedroom furthest south and near the bedroom of Mr. Sweatt, I noticed blood splattering through the residence and through the hallway leading to Mr. Sweatt’s bedroom.”

When Varga later spoke with Johnson and Hargis at the Payson Campground, where the pair was living, they gave a far different account of the incident.

Johnson said she agreed to go to Sweatt’s home with Hargis after he told her he had been hit in the back of the head while at Sweatt’s home. Hargis told Johnson that when he woke, his phone and money had been stolen.

Johnson told Varga she took a knife from her home to Sweatt’s. When they arrived at Sweatt’s, she knocked on the door and Sweatt opened it with a gun in his hands. Sweatt reportedly hit Johnson with the gun and she began stabbing him.

“She advised that she was upset when she got to the residence and when she saw William (Sweatt), she “flipped.” Varga said in the report.

Johnson said she stabbed Sweatt until the knife broke, at which time she and Hargis fled on foot a half-mile back to their trailer.

When Hargis spoke with detectives, he gave conflicting statements to Johnson’s, Varga noted.

Hargis said when he and Johnson confronted Sweatt about the missing phone, Sweatt grabbed his gun and started swinging at them, at which time they began fighting. Unlike Johnson’s statements, Hargis said they stopped fighting when they noticed a child lying on a couch in the home, not when the knife broke.

Both Hargis and Johnson denied drugs had played a part in the incident. Hargis’ sister, however, said Hargis told her he went to Sweatt’s home to sell Oxycodone pills, which Johnson had been prescribed a day before the stabbing. Varga later found an empty Oxycodone pill bottle in Johnson’s home, substantiating the woman’s statements.

“I can find no other reasonable explanation why all the Oxycodone pills were gone except for diversion,” Varga said.

Varga said it is clear that Johnson’s and Hargis’ actions were premeditated and they had time to consider alternatives other than violence.

“It appears that Brook (Johnson) begins stabbing William (Sweatt) almost immediately upon confronting him,” Varga said. “Based on those appearances, it appears Brook’s actions were with premeditation and/or exception of the violent encounter. Furthermore, Andrew (Hargis) was provided ample opportunity to avoid the encounter or assist in its prevention.”

Johnson’s and Hargis’ next case management conferences are in Globe on March 19.

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