A Logan, Utah, teen who fatally shoved an elderly former Southeast Idaho man to the ground in April because he believed his sister had been sexually assaulted by him was recently ordered to serve 30 days in juvenile detention.
The victim, 62-year-old Michael Fife, struck his head and later died of his injuries, and the teen was charged with homicide by assault, a third-degree felony.
“The judge gave him the maximum that she could, given his lack of criminal history, and that was 30 days,” defense attorney Dave Perry said.
During his disposition hearing, the youth said the entire incident is “destroying him on the inside.”
He read a letter of apology to Fife’s family, in which he let them know he didn’t take Fife’s death lightly.
“This has taken a toll over me and put me in a numb feeling where I can’t do anything but think about what has happened,” he said. “I have been seeing that what I chose to do wasn’t the best option to approach the situation, and now I have to live with the consequences of what I have done.”
In a victim impact statement, Fife’s son said his father was a man with “a big heart and an angry soul,” and his death leaves a significant void in the family.
“I don’t see how the damage can be repaired,” he reportedly wrote in the statement.
Fife was born in Gallup, New Mexico. He was abandoned as an infant and lived in an orphanage for several years. Then he was adopted by a couple in St. Charles, Idaho, which is about 105 miles south of Pocatello near Bear Lake and the borders of Wyoming and Utah. He was raised there.
According to records filed in 1st District Court, the 17-year-old went looking for Fife on April 23 after receiving a call from his sister, who allegedly said Fife touched her inappropriately while she was a passenger on a Cache Valley Transit District bus.
Police say they reviewed video footage both from the bus and from the Logan High School area where the incident occurred.
Based on those videos, they were able to determine that the allegations against Fife were false.
They were also able to see the girl’s brother get out of a vehicle, run at Fife and push him to the ground before running off.
Fife was initially transported to Logan Regional Hospital for evaluation, where medical professionals found he had a fractured skull with bleeding and swelling in his brain, reportedly caused by the assault.
Fife was later transferred to McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden and died April 27.
According to Perry, Fife’s blood alcohol content at the time of the incident was .24, and medical professionals reportedly told him that Fife might not have died if not for the effects of chronic alcoholism on the body.
The female juvenile also faced consequences for the events leading up to Fife’s death. However due to her age and the lower level of offense, that information is not public information.