Murder trials postponed
The trials of two Wasatch County men accused of killing a Park City Latino advocate have been postponed.
The trials had been scheduled to begin next week. But Fourth District Court Judge Samuel McVey — who replaced Judge Derek Pullan after Pullan recused himself from the case — scheduled a nine-day jury trial for 19-year-old Cunny Antonio Pelaez to begin Nov. 7. A trial for Antonio Vasquez-Pelaez, 56, is now slated Jan. 16-23, 2007.
Aniceto Armendariz Jr. died after he was shot last September while traveling with his wife Alma eastbound on U.S. 40 near Mayflower.
Vasquez-Pelaez faces a first-degree murder charge and a weapons charge. Cunny Pelaez faces a weapons charge and one count of aggravated murder.
Prosecutors say both suspects are illegal immigrants and barred from carrying firearms.
Armendariz was a religious leader for Holy Cross Ministries in Heber and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Summit County.
A murder conviction in Utah could carry a penalty of five years to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. Aggravated murder in the state is punishable by death.
"The state will not seek the death penalty (against Cunny Pelaez)," Wasatch County Attorney Thomas Low has told The Park Record.
But Cunny Pelaez could spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole, Low said, adding that the charge was enhanced because the suspect admitted that he knew another person was inside Armendariz’s vehicle at the time of the shooting.
Investigators say Armendariz died at the scene Sept. 25 when he lost control of his truck and rolled the vehicle seven times after being shot. They claim the defendants were in a nearby van that collided with Armendariz’s truck. The suspects were captured at the Lodge at Stillwater while allegedly trying to hide from police, the authorities have claimed.
Low, who was not immediately available for comment, says prosecutors interviewed more than 100 witnesses in the case.
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