Aggravated Charges for Man Who Killed Missing Utah Student

Aggravated charges are pending for a Utah man after authorities located charred DNA evidence of missing college student in the man’s backyard.

Missing college students

Photo by: Tony Webster

In the early morning hours of June 17, 2019, Mackenzie Lueck let her parents know she had arrived at the Salt Lake City Airport before taking a Lyft ride to a park in North Salt Lake. There she met someone in another vehicle and was never seen again. For the next week and a half, Lueck missed her school classes and work and did not take a flight she had scheduled back to California to see her family. Investigators worked tirelessly around the clock, eventually questioning a man that had engaged in electronic communications with Lueck prior to her disappearance.

DNA evidence

Neighbors to the man alerted authorities that the day Lueck had gone missing, the man had been burning things in his backyard with gasoline. After obtaining a search warrant, police were able to find burned remains of Lueck’s belongings as well as charred body tissue. DNA evidence from those findings were linked to Lueck. The owner of the house, 31 year old Ayoola Ajayi was arrested on several charges including aggravated charges of kidnapping and murder as well as obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body.

Aggravated charges

Ajayi is facing four felonies for the following:

  • Third degree desecration of a human body. Utah Code 76-9-704 states “A person is guilty of abuse or desecration of a dead human body if the person intentionally and unlawfully . . . disturbs, moves, removes, conceals, or destroys a dead human body or any part of it”.
  • Second degree obstruction of justice, described by Utah Code 76-8-306 as when a person commits actions with the “. . . intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense”.
  • First degree aggravated kidnapping defined by Utah Code 76-5-303 as “ . . . if the actor, in the course of committing unlawful detention or kidnapping: uses or threatens to use a dangerous weapon . . . or acts with intent;
    – To hold the victim for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage . . . ;
    – To facilitate the commission . . . of a felony;
    – To hinder or delay the discovery of or reporting of a felony;
    – To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another; . . .
    – To commit a sexual offense”.
  • First degree aggravated murder. “Criminal homicide constitutes aggravated murder if the actor intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another” and was also involved in sexual offenses, kidnapping, desecration of a human body or other circumstances as stated in Utah Code 76-5-202.

The ultimate penalty

Ajayi is facing up to five years in prison for desecration of a human body, one to 15 years for obstruction of justice and five to life for aggravated kidnapping. The aggravated charges of murder could result in life in prison or the death penalty, depending on if it is charged as a noncapital or capital felony. Section 76-5-202 states “If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has been filed, aggravated murder is a capital felony. If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has not been filed, aggravated murder is a noncapital first degree felony”.According to Section 76-3-207.7, noncapital first degree aggravated murder is punishable by “life in prison without parole; or an indeterminate prison term of not less than 25 years and that may be for life. Regarding a capital felony, 76-3-206 notes “the sentence shall be: . . . life in prison without parole or death.

Criminal defense

Regardless of the type of crime committed and whether or not they have been tried already by the public court of social media, anyone facing charges has the constitutional right to be represented by an attorney in a court of law. For more information on the options available for those facing serious charges such as aggravated murder, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Little League Parent Arrested For Aggravated Assault in Utah

A parent of a little league player was arrested in Utah for aggravated assault toward their child’s coach.

Out of control parents

Photo by: Jim Larrison

Last week the rest of the nation watched in disbelief as a video made the rounds on social media showing a group of parents yelling and throwing punches at a kid’s baseball game in Colorado. This week a similar incident took place in Utah as a single parent lost their cool at a game and went after the coach with a baseball bat.

No parent of the year award

37 year old Andrew Bunot was arrested at his children’s game in Roy, Utah after Bunot was displeased with the lack of time his kids got to spend actually playing the game and decided to have words with the coach. Instead of just talking to the coach however, Bunot grabbed a baseball bat and threatened the coach with it. Other parents stopped Bunot as he made threatening advances toward the coach with the bat. Bunot was arrested for aggravated assault while his children watched.

Aggravated assault

Utah Code 76-5-103 states “Aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct . . . that is:

  1. an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
  2. a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
  3. an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and

that includes the use of:

  1. a dangerous weapon . . . ;
  2. any act that impedes the breathing or the circulation of blood of another person by the actor’s use of unlawful force or violence that is likely to produce a loss of consciousness . . .
  3. other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.”

Since Bunot threatened the coach with a bat which is capable of causing serious bodily injury, he is not facing a third degree felony. Third degree felony aggravated assault is punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and as much as five years in prison.

Poor examples of sportsmanship

Parent outburst during youth athletics is a growing problem, with many parents being verbally abusive to referees, coaches, and even the kids. As the problem with parents at games escalates to cases of physical and aggravated assault, it’s time for parents to start being better examples of sportsmanship to their children so they don’t miss games while sitting behind bars.

Southern Utah Man Turns Himself In For Sexual Crimes Against Children

A southern Utah man has been sentenced for his sexual crimes against children after he turned himself him nearly two years ago.

Years of guilt

Hartwig HKD

In October of 2018, Aaron Carthal Schafer of St. George Utah came forward to police to admit he had committed sexual crimes against children. At the time, it does not appear Schafer was a suspect or even remotely on law enforcement’s rader. The reason he came forward was due to years of guilt and a desire to be held accountable for his actions so he could receive the mental help he needed.

Sexual crimes against children

Schafer, who is the father of five children according to social media posts by family members was sentenced this month to multiple sexual crimes against children. He was originally charged with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one count of sodomy of a child but the later charged was dropped as he pled guilty to the other three charges.

Sexual abuse of a child

Schafer was sentenced for three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. According to Utah Code 76-5-404.1, “An individual commits sexual abuse of a child if, under circumstances not amounting to rape of a child, object rape of a child, sodomy on a child, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses, the actor touches the anus, buttocks, pubic area, or genitalia of any child, the breast of a female child, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with a child, with intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any individual or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any individual regardless of the sex of any participant.”

Enhanced aggravated charges

Photo by: Connor Tarter

That section goes on to note that “An individual commits aggravated sexual abuse of a child when . . . any of the following circumstances have been charged and admitted or found true in the action for the offense [along with the above]:
The offense was committed by the use of a dangerous weapon . . . or by force, duress, violence, intimidation, coercion, menace, or threat of harm, or was committed during the course of a kidnapping;

  1. The accused caused bodily injury or severe psychological injury to the victim during or as a result of the offense;
  2. The accused was a stranger to the victim or made friends with the victim for the purpose of committing the offense;
  3. The accused used, showed, or displayed pornography or cause the victim to be photographed in a lewd condition during the course of the offense;
  4. The accused . . . was previously convicted of any sexual offense;
  5. The accused committed the same or similar sexual act upon two or more victims at the same time or during the same course of conduct;
  6. The accused committed . . . more than five separate acts . . . at the same time, or during the same course of conduct, or before or after the instant offense;
  7. The offense was committed by an individual who occupied a position of special trust in relation to the victim;
  8. The accused encouraged, aided, allowed, or benefited from acts of prostitution or sexual acts by the victim with any other individual, or sexual performance by the victim before any other individual, human trafficking, or human smuggling; or
  9. The accused cause the penetration, however slight, or the genital or anal opening of the child by any part or parts of the human body other than the genitals or mouth.”

Public documents do not state who the victims are, however they do note that Schafer abused at least one of the children while showering with them which may indicate it was one of his children. If this is true, this could mean Schaffer was a parent of the victim, or a subsection ‘h’ states “. . .a person of special trust in relation to the victim”. It is unknown exactly which subsection applies specifically to Schafer’s case or if more than one is applicable.

At least 6 years behind bars

While sexual abuse of a child is a second degree felony, punishable by one to 15 years in prison, aggravated sexual abuse is a first degree felony punishable by six years to as long as life in prison. The shorter sentence of six to ten years is applicable as long as the victim did not suffer any serious bodily injuries and the accused is not guilty of any previous“grievous sexual offense. Schafer was sentenced to six years with at least nine months served. While the judge was appalled at his behavior toward the young children, he did credit him with his honestly in coming forward on his own.