SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Supreme Court on Friday upheld the double-murder conviction of an Ogden man who gunned down four people, two fatally, at a wedding party.
Riqo Perea was charged in 2007 with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of attempted murder. He was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole.
He appealed the conviction, arguing that the district judge denied and limited testimony from several witnesses and an expert in "false confessions," implying he was pressured by police into falsely confessing to the crime, according to court documents.
Perea also argued that his confession should have been suppressed from the court because the investigators violated his Miranda rights, according court documents.
His defense requested that his conviction be dismissed due to the district court's errors.
The Supreme Court handed down its opinion Friday affirming Perea's conviction and sentence.
Justice Jill Parrish wrote the opinion, saying the district court did err by limiting certain testimony, but that these were inconsequential to the overwhelming evidence toward Perea's guilt.
"... we conclude that the error was harmless and does not undermine our confidence in the verdict when viewed against the backdrop of Mr. Perea's overwhelming guilt," Parrish wrote.
Parrish also wrote that Perea's Miranda rights were not violated and that he was fully aware that he was waiving them when he confessed.
On Aug. 5, 2007, Perea and other members of the Ogden Trece gang arrived at a friend's house. Across the street, a wedding party was being held with members of the rival Nortenos gang present. An argument broke out in the middle of the street, and a gunshot was fired by an unknown person. Perea and his friends got back in their vehicle to flee; however, several witnesses testified that they saw Perea leaning out of the vehicle's passenger window, firing a handgun at the party-goers.
Rocendo Nevarez and Sabrina Prieto were shot and killed. Two others were wounded.
Police arrested Perea a few days later. They say he verbally confessed and signed a written confession.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SE_Andreas.