Jury convicts Farmer of aggravated murder in Ogden teen’s shooting death
OGDEN — An eight-member jury on Thursday convicted Theron Farmer of aggravated murder and three other charges in the Feb. 11, 2019, shooting death of an 18-year-old Ben Lomond High School student during a drug robbery in west Ogden.
Jurors deliberated for about 4 ½ hours at the close of a five-day trial in 2nd District Court before finding Farmer, 25, of Ogden, guilty on the murder charge as well as counts of aggravated attempted murder, aggravated robbery and obstruction of justice.
Farmer, in a dark suit and tie, sat impassively as Judge Reuben Renstrom read the verdicts.
Charging documents alleged that Farmer and Daniel Viegas-Gonzalez, 30, of Farmington, went to the victim’s home after Farmer negotiated a drug buy with Eric Johnson, who was shot four times and critically injured. Johnson’s younger brother, Kamron, who stayed home sick from school, was killed.
In closing arguments Thursday morning, deputy Weber County attorney Teral Tree said the suspects, wearing beanies and gloves, were let in by Eric Johnson, and after Viegas-Gonzalez went to the bathroom, he emerged and shot Eric Johnson in the chest and arm, then walked several steps and fatally shot Kamron Johnson in the head and chest. He then allegedly stood over Eric Johnson and shot him in the thigh and calf, demanding to know where the drugs were, Tree said. He said Farmer meanwhile was ransacking Eric Johnson’s bedroom.
Tree urged jurors not to believe Farmer’s testimony, given Wednesday. Farmer admitted setting up a drug purchase with Eric Johnson, but he said he did it at Viegas-Gonzalez’s request and that Viegas-Gonzalez shot the Johnsons without warning and then threatened him.
Instead, Tree said the shooting survivor should be believed. Eric Johnson testified that after the shootings, Farmer made to draw a silver and black handgun from his waistband. He said he saw Viegas-Gonzalez restraining Farmer and telling him, “He’s done, let’s go.”
Farmer told other witnesses that Eric Johnson had drugs and a lot of money, Tree said. Farmer told a friend in an online message in January 2019, “Life’s getting boring, why not rob somebody?” Tree reminded jurors. He said Farmer, Viegas-Gonzalez and a third man discussed robbing Eric Johnson.
“Eric and Kamron were set up for an orchestration of robbery and murder,” Tree said. “He used his friendship and inside knowledge of Eric and his home.” The prosecutor also pointed to witness testimony and Farmer’s own comments in a police interrogation that Farmer and Johnson had argued sometime earlier and that “Eric had left him behind and was too good for him.”
Later Feb. 11, Farmer and Viegas-Gonzalez were in a friend’s Layton apartment, using and spreading around some of the Xanax taken from Johnson and bragging about the crime, Tree said. “He was using drugs from the robbery and wearing Eric’s clothes,” Tree said. “He was walking the walk of a guilty man.”
Tree also urged jurors to believe several witnesses who testified about Farmer’s actions and comments before and after the shootings. Farmer told one witness that he could avoid responsibility for the shootings by creating a reasonable doubt for a jury, Tree said. “He has been scheming every which way,” Tree said. “His goal has been to manipulate and portray himself as much of a victim as Kamron and Eric.”
“There is no reasonable doubt,” the prosecutor said. “In order to find him not guilty, you’re going to have to believe him. And in order to believe him, you’re going to have to disbelieve every other witness.”
Farmer testified Wednesday that he was not armed during the robbery and he never owned a gun.
In the defense’s closing arguments, attorney Jonathan Nish told jurors he agreed that “cold-blooded murder” was committed, but by Viegas-Gonzalez, not Farmer. “Danny Viegas shot Kamron execution-style,” Nish said. “The state has portrayed Danny Viegas as an accomplice. That is astounding to me. He is not an accomplice, he is a killer.”
Nish said Viegas-Gonzalez and a third man “used Theron to gain access to Xanax. (Farmer) was just setting up a drug deal like he had done many times in the past.” He said Farmer and Johnson were negotiating price in text messages. “Why negotiate a price for something you have no intention of paying for?” Nish said.
Nish also discounted various witnesses’ accounts of Farmer’s actions before and after the shootings. “All that testimony came from heavy drug users about events that happened three years ago,” he said.
Nish said he believed Eric Johnson testified honestly in the trial, but he contended that his perceptions of what Viegas-Gonzalez did after the shootings and before the suspects left the home were affected by the rapid blood loss, shock and trauma he was experiencing. “Theron didn’t say, ‘Just kill him’ or ‘Finish him,’ he said, ‘Don’t kill him,'” Nish said.
Rather, Nish said, Viegas-Gonzalez threatened Farmer, who “took the threat seriously and absolutely thought he could be next.”
Tree countered that Eric Johnson, despite being shot, “had the wherewithal to dial 911 and throw the phone under a table.”
“Who had motive to finish off Eric?” Tree asked. “Not Danny. Eric did not know Danny. The first thing from Eric’s lips was, ‘Theron Farmer, Theron Farmer,'” when he was found, Tree said. He told jurors, “To get to not guilty, you have to get on the Theron train.”
Renstrom ordered a presentence investigation and set Farmer’s sentencing for Dec. 8. According to state law, Farmer could be sentenced on the murder charge to 25 years to life in prison or life without parole.
Viegas-Gonzalez has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 16. No trial date is set. He faces charges identical to those against Farmer, plus a third-degree felony charge of use of a firearm by a restricted person.