Springdale man arrested on felony murder charge returned to custody after brief release on bail

ST. GEORGE — After his brief release, 51-year-old Jason Howard Clinger is back in custody without bail following a hearing Monday morning.

Clinger was arrested Oct. 8 on first degree felony murder charges after Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies received a call of suspicious activity in Apple Valley.

The caller refused to provide further detail, adding that they would talk to officials once they arrived. Law enforcement delayed their response due to the unusual circumstances but dispatched deputies to the scene after additional contact with the caller.

When officers arrived at the Plataclay Mine in Apple Valley, they found the body of 50-year-old Todd Clayton Stratton, who appeared to have died from injuries consistent with gunshot wounds.

Clinger allegedly told officials he shot the victim following an altercation, and he was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility, where he was held on a $100,000 bail.

Jason Howard Clinger, 51, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Oct. 8, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

During a press conference on Oct. 9, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse said on the day of the alleged murder, Clinger and Stratton were engaged in a heated, verbal altercation that became physical when Clinger retreated into a house on the property to retrieve a firearm before returning outside and shooting Stratton. Clinger and Lucy Truitt — Clinger’s girlfriend — were residing in the home at the time of the incident.

Prosecutor Zachary Weiland of the Washington County Attorney’s Office told St. George News a judge reviewed the probable cause statement filed in support of Clinger’s arrest and initially issued the $100,000 cash bail.

Clinger’s bail was obtained through a bondsman, at which point he returned to the property where he stayed with his girlfriend.

Under Utah Code 77-20-1-2C – which states that bail is a right but that it can be revoked for felony cases where there is substantial evidence or where the defendant is likely to flee – the state requested Monday’s bail hearing, where prosecutors argued that Clinger posed a significant danger to the community and that there was substantial evidence to support the charge.

The substantial evidence presented by prosecutors was a 20-minute video of the confrontation and alleged murder, recorded by Stratton, which the court watched when making its determination. Officials asked that Clinger be placed back into custody without bail.

The court agreed with prosecution and ruled that Clinger would be placed back into the custody of Washington County officials.

During the Oct. 9 press conference, Crouse said Clinger and Stratton had known each other since grade school. The pair had previously entered into a civil contract regarding property Stratton owned, allowing Clinger to complete work for Stratton in exchange for the property. For years, the pair had disagreed on whether Clinger had been providing the services they have agreed upon.

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