Suspects in slaying bound over for trial |

Suspects in slaying bound over for trial

A Fourth District Court judge Wednesday ordered two Wasatch County men to stand trial on murder charges in connection with the killing last year of a local Latino leader. Antonio Vasquez-Pelaez, 55, and 19-year-old Cunny Antonio Pelaez are accused of killing Aniceto Armendariz while the man was driving with his wife eastbound on U.S. 40 near the Jordanelle Reservoir on Sept. 25. Armendariz was a religious leader for Holy Cross Ministries in Heber and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Summit County.

Judge Samuel McVey ordered both suspects to stand trial following a preliminary hearing this week in Wasatch County. A date for the trial has not been determined. McVey recently replaced Fourth District Court Judge Derek Pullan on the bench after Pullan recused himself due to a personal relationship he has with Armendariz’s family.

Vasquez-Pelaez faces a first-degree murder charge and a weapons charge. Charges against Cunny Pelaez were enhanced this week. Along with a weapons charge, the younger suspect now faces one count of aggravated murder, a capital crime.

"The state will not seek the death penalty," Wasatch County Attorney Thomas Low said during a telephone interview Friday.

But if convicted, 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 after he lost control of his truck and rolled the vehicle seven times after being shot with a shotgun. 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 trying to hide from police. The suspects remain incarcerated in Wasatch County. — Patrick Parkinson

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