Murder charges filed 5 years after shooting at Salt Lake City flower shop
SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors say they finally have enough evidence to charge a Midvale man with murder in the 5-year-old shooting death of a man in a flower shop parking lot.
Steven Daniel Lucero, 26, was charged with first-degree felony murder Friday in the Oct. 7, 2007, shooting death of Juan Carlos Ochoa, from Washington state.
Ochoa, who was 24, was shot in the chest outside the Flower Patch, 3302 S. 300 West, South Salt Lake, and died at the scene, according to charging documents filed in 3rd District Court.
South Salt Lake Police spokesman Gary Keller said Lucero was a person of interest in the case from the beginning, but detectives "couldn't get hold of enough probable cause" to charge the man with murder.
"They hung with it," Keller said. "Even though it's been awhile since the occurrence, they are tenacious. They stay with their cases."
Police say confidential informants recently revealed that Lucero had told them he had shot and killed Ochoa, according to charging documents.
"In a way it is a cold case, but it's an active cold case," Keller said. "It's not a case where they run into the wall and they just put it all in a box and put it in a basement somewhere. Eventually in something like this, usually what happens is friendships will fade over time and alliances go by the wayside. And after time passes, people are willing to talk."
Lucero was arrested for investigation of homicide two days after the shooting and later charged with obstruction of justice.
"It was decided at the preliminary hearing (in 2007) that they did not have sufficient evidence to articulate the murder," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Friday. "At that time, all they could charge him with was obstructing by trying to withhold certain information from them."
Police were able to track down Lucero on Oct. 9, 2007, with help from an EMT who was in an ambulance and stopped at the intersection of 3300 South and 300 West at the time of the shooting, charging documents state.
The EMT told police he saw an argument between two men, heard three gunshots and then watched one of the men leave in a Buick with a temporary registration tag in the back window.
Using the description from the EMT, police located the 1985 Buick Riviera registered to Lucero near 1500 South and 900 East in Salt Lake City, charges state. Police impounded the car and then waited at the house until Lucero arrived.
Lucero is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on $1 million bail.
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