2 ordered to stand trial for murder in smoke shop killing

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25 2012 4:56 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has ordered two men accused in a deadly shooting at a Poplar Grove neighborhood smoke shop to stand trial for murder.

Following a hearing on the evidence in the case, 3rd District Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman took the case against Yelfris Sosa-Hurtado, 26, and Vladimir Suarez-Campos, 38, under advisement. She later issued a written ruling saying there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Sosa-Hurtado killed Steven Guadalupe Chavez, 26, inside CJ's Smoke Shop, 876 W. 800 South, on March 14 and ordered him to stand trial for aggravated murder.

Suarez-Campos is believed to have driven Sosa-Hurtado to and from the shop and was bound over on a charge of murder, a first-degree felony. Both men are also facing nine counts of felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony.

Isabel Chavez, Steven Chavez’s father, testified that he returned to his shop on March 14 after making some deliveries and found a car blocking his parking spot, court documents state. He said he asked the driver of the car, whom he identified as Sosa-Hurtado, to move, but the man refused.

Chavez said he was going to call police and went and told his son about the exchange. Steven Chavez confronted Sosa-Hurtado about disrespecting his father and also asked Sosa-Hurtado to move, but the man refused and, according to Isabel Sanchez, punched Steven Sanchez in the face. Steven Sanchez responded by twice hitting Sosa-Hurtado and telling him to go home, according to court documents. Sosa-Hurtado then left.

Between 30 and 45 minutes later, a man whom both Isabel Sanchez and a woman who saw the fight identified as Sosa-Hurtado entered the store and pulled a “long gun” from his jacket and shot the display case below Isabel Sanchez. Sosa-Hurtado placed the gun near Steven Sanchez’s chest and told the man he was going to kill him before firing a shot, court documents state.

One shot hit Steven Chavez in the hand, and Chavez took cover by diving behind the counter. Prosecutors say Sosa-Hurtado then leaned over the counter and shot Chavez twice in the torso. Sosa-Hurtado left the shop, allegedly fired nine more shots in the air, and, according to various witnesses, got into the passenger side of a dark blue Honda Civic and fled the area.

The judge pointed to phone records in her ruling as evidence that Suarez-Campos drove the car to and from the smoke shop.

“Based upon a careful consideration of the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, the court concludes that the state has met its burden with respect to all charges for both defendants,” Bernards-Goodman wrote in her decision to order the men to stand trial.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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