Despite lack of bodies, prosecutors confident in capital murder case

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Prosecutors plan to try a capitol murder case despite not having a body.

The case involves Christopher Richard Poulson who is facing two counts of capitol murder.  He's accused of killing his girlfriend Emily Almiron and her 3-year-old son Gabriel.  Their bodies have never been found.


By prosecuting this case, the Utah County attorney will take on a fundamental principal of criminal law "Corpus Delecti (the body of the crime)."  Prosecutors must show ample evidence that a murdered happened without a body.

 "I'm not going to argue the case in the media, but I think we have a good case," said Sam Peade, the Utah County deputy attorney.

Poulson disappeared last August after he met the FBI who were questioning him about the disappearance of Almiron and her son. He was arrested last month in Hawaii after being charged with capital murder.

Prosecutors claimed Poulson and Almiron lived together in Orem.  After she disappeared, Poulson allegedly told Orem police he kicked her and her son out because she was using drugs. But the two-year investigation showed detectives traced his whereabouts using his cellphone GPS.  

On the night Almiron was last seen in 2015, detectives in charging documents claimed
he went to a dumpster in Orem.  They have evidence he purchased a shovel and work gloves.
And the cellphone GPS tracked him to St. George while using her car.  Prosecutors claimed a friend talked with Poulson at the time and told her he "had to kill someone," but that it was a "misunderstanding."

"It's like any other case where we have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there is or are deceased persons and so it's the same as any other (case)," said Peade.  "We have to do it with other evidence. "

Poulson's defense attorney had no comment about their strategy.  But a former prosecutor with the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office said Utah County will have a difficult time proving there was a murder.

"If you don't have a body, you don't have a murder," said Kent Morgan, now a defense attorney.

He said that's why they never could charge Josh Powell with murdering his wife Susan.
Susan Cox Powell disappeared in 2009 . Her body was never found.  Josh Powell murdered their two sons before setting the home he was living in at the time on fire.

"We had no evidence of her death," said Morgan.  "Following that case would have been futile and probably would have been dismissed."

Morgan said Utah County prosecutors have to prove she disappeared and whatever circumstantial evidence they have collected will have to be strong enough to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.


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