California Fugitive Since 2012 Located in Utah Following $3.00 Credit Card Fraud

A fugitive from California wanted for murder since 2012 has been located in Utah after he committed a credit card fraud for a whopping $3.00.

Murder in California

Photo by: Tom Britt

In 2012, 29 year old Jordan Vigil was found dead in a garage in Castro Valley, California. The man suspected of his murder fled prior to police arriving on scene. Police assumed the suspect may have fled the country as he possibly had ties outside the United States. The case went cold until just recently when the suspect was located in Utah.

Credit card fraud in Utah

33 year old Cody Tripp was the sole suspect in the murder of Jordan Vigil in California but managed to steer clear of law enforcement’s radar for seven years. It wasn’t until Tripp made the mistake of fraudulently using another person’s credit card in Utah that he was eventually caught for credit card fraud as well as the seven year old murder. It isn’t known publicly what Tripp used the stolen card for, but the amount of just over $3.00 probably wasn’t worth it.

Criminal charges

Photo by: cafecredit.com

When someone unlawfully takes possession of another’s credit or debit card in Utah, it is considered a type of fraud – regardless of whether or not they used the card to go on a shopping spree or to buy a drink at a mini-mart. Credit card fraud that gets reported to police as what happened in this case is investigated thoroughly and penalized as a second or third degree felony, depending on the quantity of cards stolen. Utah Code 76-6-506.3 states “. . . an individual is guilty of a third degree felony who: acquires a financial transaction card from another without the consent of the card holder or the issuer”. If the person is in possession of 100 or more stolen cards, the charges are increased to a second degree felony.

Don’t run – Get an attorney

Tripp’s fraud charge in Utah is nothing compared to the homicide charge he faces back in California. Facing serious criminal charges can be frightening, especially when facing a charge that could mean life in prison or even the death penalty. Running from the law may buy a person some time, but it is always better to face a charge head on with the help of a reputable criminal defense attorney.

Bad Acid Trip Ends in Attempted Murder with a Meat Cleaver

A bad acid trip in Orem, Utah ended in one man missing an ear and the other facing charges for attempted murder with a meat cleaver.

LSD and weapons

Photo by: Jordi Sabaté

30 year old Mackenzie Ulibarri and 27 year old Jordan Smith were allegedly tripping on acid together when an altercation broke out between the two roommates. Reports state Ulibarri was upset with Smith being loud and echoing the same phrases repeatedly. The way these mannerisms were viewed was likely to be enhanced due to the effects of the hallucinogens and Ulibarri claimed to be scared by his roommate’s behavior. He then fired a weapon at Smith and when that didn’t work, he attacked him with a meat cleaver. Smith suffered several injuries, including one of his ears being detached completely. Ulibarri was arrested on multiple charges including attempted murder.

Attempted murder

Utah Code 76-4-102 states “Criminal attempt to commit [murder] . . . is a first degree felony punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term of not fewer than three years and which may be for life”. Utah Code 76-4-101 adds “a person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if he:

(a) Engages in conduct constituting a substantial step toward commission of the crime; and
(b) (i) Intends to commit the crime; or
(c) (ii) When causing a particular result is an element of the crime, he acts with an awareness that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause that result.”

Awareness while hallucinating?

When an individual is under the influence of a hallucinogen such as LSD, there is usually little to no awareness of reality. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states: “some hallucinogens interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates:

• Mood
• Sensory perception
• Sleep
• Hunger
• Body temperature
• Sexual behavior
• Muscle control

Other hallucinogens interfere with the actions of the brain chemical glutamate, which regulates:

• Pain perception
• Responses to the environment
• Emotion
• Learning and memory”

NIH goes on to note: “short-term effects of some hallucinogens include: . . .

• Mixed senses (such as “seeing” sounds or “hearing” colors)
• Spiritual experiences
• Feelings of relaxation or detachment from self/environment . . .
• Panic
• Paranoia – extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
• Psychosis – disordered thinking detached from reality”.

With such an overall effect on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state, it is not surprising to note that someone tripping on acid may not have the awareness necessary to know what they are doing or what the consequences of their actions may be.

Temporary, yet voluntary insanity

When someone makes the conscious choice to partake in a substance known to skew a person’s reality or decision-making skills even to the point of making them temporarily insane, they are also taking the responsibility of any criminal activity they may perform while under the influence of that substance. According to Utah Code 76-2-305, “It is a defense to a prosecution under any statute or ordinance that the defendant, as a result of mental illness, lacked the mental state required as an element of the offense charged. . .[however] A person who asserts a defense of insanity or diminished mental capacity, and who is under the influence of voluntarily consumed, injected, or ingested alcohol, controlled substances, or volatile substances at the time of the alleged offense is not excused from criminal responsibility on the basis of mental illness if the alcohol or substance caused, triggered, or substantially contributed to the mental illness.”

Criminal defense

Those individuals who are facing charges stemming from criminal actions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs such as hallucinogens are encouraged to seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who can help find valid defense opportunities pertinent to each specific case.

Lying to Police Results in Felony Obstruction of Justice Charges

A Utah woman arrested for felony obstruction of justice for initially lying to police about teens’ deaths in Utah.

Lying to police

Photo by: Carmello Fernando

34 year old Morgan Reannon Henderson of Mammoth, Utah was arrested on felony charges of obstruction of justice after she finally released information regarding two Utah teens who had been missing for nearly three months. Henderson was questioned twice early on in the investigation of the teen’s disappearance but was dishonest in her response to investigators. It wasn’t until Henderson was arrested for drugs and weapon charges that she told the truth about the night the teens went missing. The whereabouts of 17 year old “Breezy” Otteson and 18 year old Riley Powell remained unknown to the teens’ families or authorities until Henderson eventually told police her live in boyfriend, Jerrod William Baum was responsible for the death of both teens. She then led them to the location of the bodies and Baum was arrested for aggravated murder.

Obstruction of Justice

Henderson admitted to police that the teens had been at her when Baum became upset at the visitors and tied them up. She saw Baum kill the teens before dumping their bodies in an abandoned mine. She then assisted Baum in hiding their vehicle while he also stashed their personal belongings. Utah Code 76-8-306 states: “An actor commits obstruction of justice if the actor, with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense:

(a)provides any person with a weapon;
(b) prevents by force, intimidation, or deception, any person from performing any act that might aid in the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person;
(c) alters, destroys, conceals, or removes any item or other thing;
(d) makes, presents, or uses any item or thing known by the actor to be false;
(e) harbors or conceals a person;
(f) provides a person with transportation, disguise, or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension;
(g) warns any person of impending discovery or apprehension;
(h) warns any person of an order authorizing the interception of wire communications or of a pending application for an order authorizing the interception of wire communications;
(i) conceals information that is not privileged and that concerns the offense, after a judge or magistrate has ordered the actor to provide the information; or
(j) provides false information regarding a suspect, a witness, the conduct constituting an offense, or any other material aspect of the investigation.”

Since Henderson helped dispose of evidence and withheld information that would have led to the arrest of her boyfriend and recovery of the two teens, she was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. Section 76-8-306 goes on to note that “Obstruction of justice is a second degree felony if the conduct which constitutes an offense would be a capital felony or first degree felony [such as murder]”. Each second degree felony is punishable by one to 15 years in prison.

A fearful choice?

Photo by: cvmz22

Although Henderson should have been upfront with authorities during her initial questioning, there is a possibility she chose to lie out of fear for her own safety. Baum had allegedly killed the teens to punish Henderson for allowing another male in the house while Baum was gone. If Baum was capable of such a heinous act, it would be reasonable to assume Henderson may be terrified to speak out against him. The fact that he threatened her life would have cemented that fear of telling the truth. It wasn’t until she was safe behind bars for another crime that she might have felt safe enough to share the truth. For that reason, lying to police or otherwise obstructing justice would have seemed the only choice to guarantee she was protected from harm. For those who are facing charges stemming from fear of domestic violence, contact a reputable criminal defense attorney. Those living in a situation where they are fearful for their safety or the safety of their family members are encouraged to call The National Domestic Violence at 1-800-799-7233.