SALT LAKE CITY — The getaway driver in the 2007 murder of a hair salon owner says he was unaware that a violent crime was about to happen and wants his sentence overturned.
Wednesday, the attorney for Jesus Jimenez, 25, argued before the Utah Supreme Court that his client did not know Miguel Mateos-Martinez, 24, had a gun with him when he went into the Bushwacker Salon, 1329 W. 1300 South, on Aug. 15, 2007.
During the robbery of the salon, Faviola Hernandez, 24, the owner of the store, was shot and killed. Mateos-Martinez, the gunman, was convicted and sentenced this year to life in prison without he possibility of parole.
In 2008, Jimenez was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison for first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery with a dangerous weapon enhancement.
But during Wednesday's hearing, defense attorney Herschel Bullen argued that his client didn't actually use or threaten anyone with a gun and wasn't aware that Mateos-Martinez had a gun when he entered the salon or had intentions of using one.
Although Jimenez was aware after the fact that a gun was used, "The acts had already occurred," Bullen argued.
He said Jimenez would had to have had prior knowledge that a gun would be used in order for an accomplice enhancement to be given.
But assistant attorney general Jeanne Inouye argued that under the legal statute, it is irrelevant whether or not he knew a gun was going to be used during the robbery when he helped commit the crime. And regardless, she said in this case the government believes Jimenez did know that a gun would be used.
At one point, Justice Thomas Lee pointed out that according to the case reports, Jimenez, after driving by the salon several times, told his girlfriend who was in the car with him to "get down" right before the robbery happened.
"The only reason you get down is when bullets are about to fly," Lee said.
Members of Hernandez's family attended the hearing. Afterward, they felt confident the Supreme Court would uphold Jimenez's conviction and sentence.
Rosa Hernandez, Faviloa's mother, said it didn't matter whether Jimenez was the one who actually pulled the trigger or not.
"He was present. He drove several times around the place. He knows he was going to the robbery," she said. "I'm confident (the justices) are going to keep it the way it is."
"If he didn't know before (that a gun was involved), he knew after," said Laura Hernandez, Faviloa's sister who was 12 at the time of the murder. "Multiple times he could have backed out and changed his mind."
The Utah Supreme Court is expected to release a decision in several months.