WEST JORDAN — Heather Quast was a kind, popular teenager who "strongly believed in the peace sign" as a symbol of peace, love, unity and respect, her family said.
She had gotten mixed up in some small-scale marijuana dealing, but was looking to make a change.
"She was getting to a point where she didn't want to sell pot anymore," her mother, Rashell, told 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen during the sentencing Wednesday of the man who played a role in her death.
"She didn't think it was worth it, but she was friends with Jose."
Prosecutors said it was the girl's friendship with Jose Jesus Neri, 21, that led to her death. They said he arranged the robbery that would ultimately leave the 18-year-old dead and asked that Neri receive consecutive sentences.
Christiansen sentenced the man to just that, ordering Neri to spend five years to life in prison for aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, and another one to 15 years for manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
"You weren't the one who stabbed her, but your involvement was substantial," the judge said. "You set up the aggravated robbery. … Had you not done that, she would still be here."
On May 26, 2010, Quast and a friend, Aric Russom, were in a field next to the Jordan River Parkway Trail, near 1100 West and 3900 South, waiting to make a drug deal when they were both stabbed, police said. Russom was stabbed in the face, near his eye.1 comment on this story
Quast was struck in the stomach and taken to the hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Neri arranged the meeting and brought Cristian Alzaga, 22. Police documents state that when the men arrived to make the exchange, Alzaga asked for all of their drugs and stabbed Quast and Russom. Alzaga was sentenced to concurrent terms of 15 years to life in prison for murder and five years to life for aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies, in March.