There are thousands of cases filed nationally each year. Utah has had its share of unique and even high profile trials. This list is comprised of five trials that, for various reasons, were unusual and gained the interest of many.


5) David James “D.J.” Bell

The trial of David Bell occurred in Salt Lake, from 2008-2009. This trial was unique because both sides had a defense claim. On the fourth of July in 2008, five individuals attacked Bell and his friend in Bell’s home. Both men were beaten, cut, and even dragged out into the streets. The attackers accused Bell, their neighbor, of kidnapping two children, and burglary. Bell’s defense claimed it was actually child neglect, and this attack was a hate crime. Ultimately the jury found Bell not guilty, and his attackers stood their own trials.

4) Tom Green

One of the most infamous polygamists of Utah is Tom Green. He managed to escape being tried for bigamy for years by marrying and then divorcing each of his wives, making him legally single. The most Green was tried for was in 2002 when he was charged with rape of a 13 year old child. None of Green’s wives would testify against him, and the victim even later became one of Green’s wives. The sentence was five to life in prison, and after five years Green was released on parole.

3) Brian Mitchell

The trial of Brian Mitchell was a high profile case that got national attention. Most people, particularly Utah residents, can recall the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. At age 14 she was abducted from her home. Nine months later the girl was found with Brian Mitchell and his wife. Smart testified against him in court; the defense initially plead guilty, but claimed Mitchell was mentally ill. This delayed the trial until a psychiatrist eventually deemed that Mitchell was competent enough to stand trial. He was then sentenced to life in prison.

2) Mark Hoffman

Mark Hoffman has been regarded as one of the most accomplished forgers in our nation’s history. He forged many documents pertaining to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as many historical political documents, fooling even experts. In addition to his forgery, Hoffman was found guilty of two bombings that resulted in two deaths. During the bombing investigation, evidence to prove his documents were forged was found. He stood trial for both the forgery and murders, which landed him in prison for life.

1) Gary Gilmore

In October of 1976, Gary Gilmore stood trial for the murder of two individuals. He moved to Utah to live with family after receiving parole in Illinois; shortly after his arrival, he killed a gas station attendant, and a motel manager. After being turned in by his cousin, he stood trial for the second murder first because there were witnesses to testify against him. His lawyers, moved to appeal, but Gilmore urged them not to. A ten year moratorium on the death penalty had just been lifted, and Utah allowed prisoners to choose their method of death. Gilmore chose to be killed by a firing squad.