What began as a playground brawl over a girl turned into the murder of a well-liked student, dividing the student body at Stansbury High School — and the community.
On April 26, a group of students from SHS met on the playground of Stansbury Elementary School at midnight for a fight between 18-year-old Roy Coffey and another student, who were settling a long-standing argument over a girl they had both dated.
As the scuffle broke up, Coffey’s cousin, 20-year-old Larry Beach of San Antonio, Texas, and a friend of the other boy, 17-year-old Jesse Horowitz, began trading words that escalated into a fight.
Beach, who had reportedly insulted Horowitz, prompted Horowitz to punch Beach in the face, according to a police report.
“I really wasn’t even trying to hurt the dude because I didn’t even know him,” Beach told officers in an interview hours later, according to the report. “I was like, ‘Hell, no, I’m not about to get hit in the face by someone I don’t know.’”
Because of the dim lighting and how quickly events unfolded, witness accounts were unclear of what happened next, according to the report. Beach himself told officers he had a gap in his memory during that time. But when the dust cleared, Horowitz was on the ground, bleeding from seven stab wounds, including one to his throat and two to his left chest, the report states, and Beach was reportedly holding a knife.
Bystanders and medical crews tried to administer CPR and stop the bleeding, but Horowitz was declared dead at the scene.
Coffey and Beach left the scene with Coffey’s two friends. According to the police report, Coffey told officers Beach did not seem to think he had stabbed Horowitz, but threw the knife he was holding out of the vehicle as they drove away.
Later that morning, deputies arrested Coffey and Beach at Coffey’s Stansbury Park home. After being interviewed by officers, Beach and Coffey were booked into the Tooele County Detention Center. Two days later, Beach was charged with homicide, a first-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
Coffey was charged with obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
The SHS student body, and the surrounding community, mourned the loss of Horowitz, a well-liked student and football star who hoped to play for Southern Utah University, and reeled at the circumstances that led to his death — particularly the involvement of a former classmate.
Vigils were held, and crisis counselors were brought in to ease the volatile emotional atmosphere within the high school.
At SHS’ graduation ceremonies weeks later, students gave a moment of silence in remembrance of Horowitz, as well as another would-be graduate, Matthew McConnell, who died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in February. Coffey did not attend his graduation.
In the months since Horowitz’s death, Coffey has been out of jail with an ankle monitor, but in October stated he may relocate to Oregon and was given permission to make that move, according to court records. His next appearance in 3rd District Court is scheduled for February.
In a preliminary hearing in October, Judge Robert Adkins found there was sufficient evidence to bound Beach over for trial. Beach pleaded not guilty to both charges at that same court appearance, and will next appear in January for a pretrial conference.