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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
Sandy City Police Chief Steve Chapman announced the arrest Thursday of a suspect in the November killing of UVSC hockey coach Kenneth G. Dolezsar.

SANDY — It was a "happy and poignant" time Thursday for Kenneth G. Dolezsar's friends and family as police arrested and charged a Salt Lake businessman in connection with the Utah County man's slaying outside a Village Inn.

Eugene Christopher Wright, 32, was charged Thursday in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony murder. Wright is accused of gunning down Dolezsar, 50, in the parking lot of a Village Inn at 150 W. 10600 South on Nov. 15.

The wealthy Springville businessman, who was also a part-time hockey coach at Utah Valley State College, was reportedly meeting someone for breakfast that morning when he was a shot multiple times.

Matt Beaudry, head coach of the UVSC hockey team, heard about the arrest Thursday afternoon. "I'm very happy," he said. "It's always gratifying when justice runs its course."

Beaudry said he's been in constant contact with members of Dolezsar's family, which declined through a spokesman to comment on the arrest.

The coach, however, said, "everyone is satisfied" — but they are still seeking answers. "Everybody is still waiting for the answer to the big question: Why?" he said.

Sandy Police Chief Steve Chapman praised all the investigators who worked "relentlessly" on the case.

Police say the gunman and Dolezsar began arguing in front of a another man who was sitting in his car apparently unnoticed by the two. The witness, who was waiting for a friend to join him for breakfast, watched as Dolezsar started backing up with his hands in the air as if to say he didn't want any trouble, police said.

At that point, the shooter pulled out a gun and fired at least three times.

That witness identified Wright as the shooter, according to a probable cause statement

"He is a key part of the case," Chapman said.

What was not revealed Thursday was a motive for the crime. Both the Sandy Police Department and Salt Lake District Attorney's Office declined to discuss a possible motive, saying that information would come out in court later.

Wright and Dolezsar were "business acquaintances" who had been working on a business deal together. The two had known each other for about three months, according to detectives.

Wright owned a business called Exchange Place Capital that dealt with capital investments.

Police would not say Thursday if Wright was the man Dolezsar was scheduled to meet at Village Inn. They also would not say whether they believe the shooting was planned or a spur-of-the-moment act. Chapman confirmed, however, that investigators believe Wright was wearing a disguise.

At that time, the gunman was described as a white man with tan skin, in his early to mid-40s, up to 6-foot-3 inches tall and 230 pounds, with thick black hair pulled into a ponytail. But almost right away, detectives said it was possible the hair was actually a wig.

In addition to the eyewitness, Sandy police had been waiting for DNA test results to be returned from a private laboratory in Salt Lake City. Preliminary lab results were returned Wednesday and police obtained an arrest warrant for Wright Thursday morning.

He was arrested outside an undisclosed business near 2100 South and 700 East about 1 p.m., said Sandy Police Lt. Kevin Thacker.

Detectives had been monitoring Wright's movements for several hours Thursday anticipating an arrest warrant. He did not to resist arrest, Chapman said.

Investigators were still waiting Thursday for the final DNA report to be completed. Chapman noted he did not foresee any additional people being arrested.

In January, detectives served a number of search warrants at Wright's business at 15 Exchange Place in downtown Salt Lake City, his residence at the Broadway Tower Apartments, 230 E. 300 South, and on several of his vehicles, including a Hummer, Porsche and motorcycle.

"This has truly been a team effort," Chapman said.

Bail was set at $2.5 million for Wright.

In a previous run-in with police, Wright had been charged by federal prosecutors with distribution of ecstacy. All seven counts of distribution, however, were dismissed in 2003 because of failure to locate a witness.

Chapman said the Village Inn slaying was one of the toughest his detectives have ever investigated.

"This is not the smoking gun case," he said.

But Chapman noted that Wright had been a person of interest in the case for "quite some time." In addition to interviews and regular DNA testing, Chapman said the investigation included "electronic forensics."

Beaudry said he didn't know Wright before he heard about the arrest.

"Ken never mentioned the name before," he said.

Beaudry said the past few months have dragged by, but Sandy police continually assured them the case wasn't dormant. They just couldn't tell them anything that might compromise the investigation.

"Good on them for doing a good and professional job," Beaudry said.

The arrest comes at a good time, he said. The Wolverine hockey team will play its cross-town rivals, the BYU IceCats, at Peaks Ice Arena at 8:30 p.m. today. Then on Saturday, the team will play the annual alumni game, which has been renamed in Dolezsar's honor. At last year's game, Beaudry said, Dolezsar dressed up as the school's mascot and skated around the rink for everyone's amusement.

"He was always full of pranks," he said. "He's still on our mind."


Contributing: Geoffrey Fattah, Jens Dana

E-mail: [email protected]