OGDEN -- A teenage gang member pleaded guilty Monday to killing two men in a car crash he caused while driving drunk and fleeing police almost two years ago.
Sentencing was set for March 30 for Mark Mora, 19, after he entered into a plea bargain before 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon. Mora could face up to 30 years in prison.
Under terms of his plea bargain, one of two counts of automobile homicide, a second-degree felony, and lesser charges were dismissed in return for his guilty pleas to the remaining homicide charge and a second-degree felony count of evading police.
He was 17 on April 22, 2009, when his Cadillac Deville reached speeds of more than 80 mph before he ran a red light at the intersection of 28th Street and Washington Boulevard, where his car slammed into a Mitsubishi Lancer.
Killed instantly in the Lancer were Weber State University students Derek Jasper, 18, and Blake Strebel, 19, as they drove home from a church basketball game. Testing showed Mora had a blood- alcohol content of 0.14, nearly twice the 0.08 legal limit for adults to drive after drinking; drivers younger than 21 are legally drunk with any measurable alcohol concentration.
Ogden police began chasing Mora that night because his car was a suspect vehicle tied to a home burglary earlier in the day.
Mora is a documented member of the Ogden Trece street gang, and the automobile homicide case was listed among the multitude of Trece incidents making up the 331-page Trece injunction signed into law in September. It bans Treces from associating in public, being in the vicinity of guns and alcohol and sets an 11 p.m. curfew.
Mora's case has been drawn out by a number of unsuccessful motions from his defense counsel, Mike Boyle. They included bids to suppress Mora's incriminating remarks to police and a dismissal motion, moves based on claims of flawed Miranda warnings and technical violations in obtaining a warrant to test Mora's blood-alcohol content.
Boyle also filed a motion at calling unconstitutional Utah's system allowing direct filing of charges in adult court against a juvenile for the most serious offenses. Boyle was still working as late as Jan. 13 of this year when he changed Mora's pending trial from a jury trial to a bench trial, in which the judge decides a verdict, typically a move meant to take emotion out of a proceeding.
According to testimony at Mora's preliminary hearing a year ago, he led police on a meandering, two-minute chase at speeds between 20 and 45 mph, beginning at Harrison Boulevard, when he suddenly accelerated beyond 80 mph westbound down 28th Street onto Washington Boulevard. The resulting crash was described as sounding like an enormous explosion.
Mora was knocked unconscious. His 21-year-old passenger, cousin Andrew Michael Gomez, jumped out and tried to run and fought with police. He was sentenced last year to four months in jail on charges of assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.