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Erin Hooley
Riqo Mariano Perea

OGDEN — Questions about "blood atonement" in an upcoming murder trial over a shooting at a wedding reception apparently will be hashed out at a July court hearing.

During a hearing Monday in 2nd District Court, Judge Ernie Jones weighed in on various motions involving Riqo Mariano Perea, 21. Court records indicate the judge ruled against a defense request to declare the death penalty in Utah unconstitutional. A stipulation was reached, court records said, on a defense motion to keep Mormons off of the jury.

Defense attorneys filed a motion on "blood atonement," claiming that a belief among some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the only way to receive true forgiveness from God after committing a serious sin is to shed one's own blood. Defense attorneys have previously said that although the church has indicated blood atonement isn't part of official doctrine, members widely believe it.

The court records indicate that the topic will be apparently addressed in an upcoming jury questionnaire, which was submitted to the court on Monday and will be addressed again at a July 2 court hearing.

Jones expressed concern that the case is nearly two years old and hasn't been set for trial yet, and also set a deadline for Weber County prosecutors to decide if they'll use evidence of any uncharged crimes against Perea.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Perea in connection with a 2007 shooting that left two people dead and others wounded when a man in an SUV drove up to an Ogden home and began firing into a crowd of about 30 people. Ogden police have said the shooting was gang-related.

— Ben Winslow