Families say plea deal in triple homicide case too lenient
SALT LAKE CITY — The man who police say provided the getaway vehicle for a triple-murder suspect has struck a plea deal.
But not all of the victims' family members are happy with it.
Omar Jarman, 35, Shontay Young, 34, and Danielle Lucero, 26, were shot and killed inside a house at 8286 S. Adams St. on Feb. 12. Vickie Myers was also shot but survived.
Although no motive has been given for the shootings, investigators say the residence was a known drug house.
David Fresques, 25, was charged with three counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder in 3rd District Court. All are first-degree felonies.
Davis Romney Fotu, 33, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. Prosecutors believe Fotu walked into the house with Fresques and then told him to take his vehicle after Fresques shot four people.
Fotu was scheduled to be sentenced in 3rd District Court on Monday as part of a plea deal that requires him to testify against Fresques in exchange for probation. The sentencing, however, was delayed until Feb. 21.
Outside of the courtroom Monday, family members of the victims said they believe the plea deal goes too far.
"This is devastating for our family. We really don't understand it. But we've got to deal with it and hopefully justice will be found," said Andy Lucero, whose daughter Danielle Lucero was shot in the back and killed while she was asleep in a bedroom. "I really don't like it. I felt that he should be charged right along with the other defendant. They walked through the same door in the same vehicle, they knew each other's thoughts. One mouse gets the other one."
Lucero, who also lost a son seven months earlier in an unrelated homicide, called the proposed sentencing a "slap in the face." But he noted that Fotu still faces possible incarceration in a separate case. Fotu was convicted of aggravated assault and retaliation against a witness for an incident that happened just three days before the shootings.
Fotu's attorney, Rudy Bautista, however, said his client really isn't getting off easy. Fotu will still receive jail time, with credit for time served, before getting probation.
"He was never accused or suspected of actually being involved in the murder itself," he said, adding that his client was being cooperative with prosecutors.
When asked if Fotu saw everything play out since he was inside the house at the time of the shootings, Bautista said, "Not exactly." But he didn't elaborate. Bautista suggested there were others inside the house who saw more and prosecutors could have a case even without his client's testimony.
"I guess what it comes down to at the end of the day, we're going to have to accept whatever we're given. We don't have any choice in that, which is really sad. Because our loved ones were left with no choice," Cathy Candelaria said about the plea bargain.
Candelaria is Jarman's sister.
"I think this was all about my brother, and I think that two innocent women lost their lives because of his choices," she said while trying to hold back tears.
Sean Young, Shontay Young's twin brother, said as long as Fresques is convicted and gets a heavy sentence, he feels justice will be served.
Lucero, however, believes karma will eventually catch up with Fotu.
"I do believe that his time will come sooner or later. You treat people like that, and you live a life like that, you're gonna end up being exactly like that. Shot in the back is not a way to die for a young lady that had three children," he said.
Fresques' case has become entangled in several legal battles. His attorneys have filed a petition for interlocutory appeal from the Utah Supreme Court. They want their client to be able to appear in his street clothes during his hearings rather than an inmate jumpsuit and shackles. Meanwhile, the state has filed a motion asking the judge to require Fresques to grow his facial hair back to the length it was at the time of the crime.
Fresques' next court hearing was scheduled for Dec. 5.
Contributing: Peter Samore
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