The Tooele man charged in connection with the murder of his mother in July has been assigned a new attorney but will still need to stand for a competency review early next year.
Jesus “Jesse” Aragon, 44, is charged with first-degree felony murder and first-degree felony aggravated burglary.
Aragon did not attend the hearing after he would not leave his cell, but his new attorney, Edward Brass, made an appearance in his stead in 3rd District Court Tuesday before Judge Robert Adkins.
Brass was hired by the Tooele County Attorney’s office to represent Aragon as his former public defender, Jamie Topham, no longer serves in that role for the county. During the Tooele County Commission meeting Tuesday, Deputy Tooele County Attorney Gary Searle explained the need to hire outside counsel for Aragon.
Searle said two public defenders, Richard Tanner and Jacob Linares, have conflicts with Aragon that prevent them from representing him and the third, Jordin Albers, is not prepared to handle the murder case.
“So we have two experienced public defenders who have a conflict with Mr. Aragon,” Searle said. “We have a young female public defender whose been practicing law for about three years who is woefully inadequate to handle the murder case.”
The hiring of Brass and Kim Cordova will cost the county $10,000 to start, not including any additional experts who may need to be consulted, such as mental health experts. Searle said Aragon spent about a year and a half in a state hospital but was deemed competent in February and released.
Searle said Brass has more than three decades of experience and said he believes he won’t waste money under contract to competently defend Aragon in court.
Tooele City police were dispatched to Marcella Aragon’s home at 245 E. 600 North around 7:30 a.m. on July 22 for suspicious circumstances and a welfare check, according to the probable cause statement. The reporting party, a family member, reported that Jesus Aragon, Marcella’s son, was in the area.
Officers were able to contact Jesus Aragon through an open window on the southeast side of the home, where he was found asleep on a bed, the statement said. When officers asked him to come outside to speak with them, he complied.
Tooele City police entered the home and found Marcella Aragon deceased on the living room floor with obvious signs of assault, according to the probable cause statement.
Jesus Aragon resisted arrest once outside before being taken into custody and transported to the police station for questioning, according to Tooele City Police Cpl. Tanya Turnbow.
During an interview with police, Aragon admitted to murdering his mother, the statement said. Tooele City police have not released a cause of death or motive in the case.
Aragon is expected back in court for a competency review on Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. before Judge Robert Adkins.