One Utah man is dead and another is in jail after an argument over maintaining property ended with shotgun blasts.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was contacted Tuesday at about 3:15 p.m. about an “unattended death” in Apple Valley, a small town about 25 miles east of St. George. When officers arrived at 68 N. Coyote Road, they found the body of Todd Stratton, the property owner.
Jason Howard Clinger, 51, has been charged in 5th District Court with murder, a first-degree felony. He was booked into the Purgatory Correction Facility; his bail was set at $100,000.
Clinger, who lives in a trailer on the property, told police that Stratton “came to his home and they began arguing … about maintaining the property.” He said Stratton hit him in the chest, and “was about to hit him in the face” but he “turned and the punch skimmed his eye.”
According to a probable cause statement, Clinger said “he does not recall retrieving the shotgun” and remembers being “surprised when the shotgun went off.” After Stratton was shot in the side, Stratton grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and, during a "short struggle,” Clinger hit Stratton in the head with the barrel of the gun. Clinger told police he recalled seeing blood "coming from [Stratton’s] leg as a result of the second shotgun round being fired.”
Clinger said that Stratton, who was not armed, said “something to the effect of ‘Let me live’” after he was shot, police reported.
Clinger’s girlfriend also told police that Stratton hit the suspect, who got the shotgun.
"Before I could say no, he shot Todd,” the girlfriend told investigators, according to the statement. She added that Stratton “reached toward the shotgun” and Clinger shot him again, police wrote.