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2 ordered to stand trial for murder in smoke shop killing

Published: Wednesday, July 1 2015 10:08 a.m. MDT

Photos of Steven Guadalupe Chavez are taped to the wall as part of a small memorial at CJ's Smoke Shop, 876 W. 800 South, in Salt lake City March 16, 2012, were he was shot and killed March 14, 2012. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Photos of Steven Guadalupe Chavez are taped to the wall as part of a small memorial at CJ's Smoke Shop, 876 W. 800 South, in Salt lake City March 16, 2012, were he was shot and killed March 14, 2012. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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.

Yelfris Sosa-Hurtado, 25, has been ordered to stand trial for aggravated murder in the shooting death of a man at a Salt Lake smoke shop March 19, 2012. (, Salt Lake County Jail) Yelfris Sosa-Hurtado, 25, has been ordered to stand trial for aggravated murder in the shooting death of a man at a Salt Lake smoke shop March 19, 2012. (, Salt Lake County Jail)

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.

Vladimir Suarez-Campos, 37, has been ordered to stand trial for murder in the shooting death of a man at a Salt Lake smoke shop March 19, 2012. (, Salt Lake County Jail) Vladimir Suarez-Campos, 37, has been ordered to stand trial for murder in the shooting death of a man at a Salt Lake smoke shop March 19, 2012. (, Salt Lake County Jail)

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

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