OGDEN — An Ogden man entered a not guilty plea to a murder charge Tuesday after he was arrested in July for allegedly beating a 74-year-old man to death behind an Ogden restaurant.
Jose Robert Zamora, 23, is charged with one count of murder, a first-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
Zamora appeared in court with his attorney, Michael Boyle, for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday in Ogden’s 2nd District Court. Zamora is in the custody of the Weber County Jail on a no-bail warrant.
During an opening statement, deputy Weber County Attorney Thomas Pedersen said that blunt force trauma caused the man’s death, and listed the manner of death as homicide.
Only one witness was called to testify Tuesday: Ogden Police Detective Jacob Wilson. Wilson was assigned to be the lead investigator for the case just hours after the body of 74-year-old David Marvin Paulson was found bloody and bludgeoned behind a restaurant near the intersection of 26th Street and Monroe Boulevard.
Paulson’s body was found around 7 a.m. on July 16, and police quickly arrived on scene. During the Tuesday hearing, photos of the scene were displayed for the court, including photos of Paulson’s body at the crime scene. Wilson said a large amount of blood was found around the man’s body, and deep cuts could be seen on Paulson’s head.
Wilson later interviewed Zamora, who allegedly said he had prior issues with Paulson in the past. Wilson said that witnesses told police that the two had fought in the past, including one incident where Zamora allegedly punched Paulson in the face, giving him a black eye. Zamora allegedly told Wilson he had seen Paulson “creeping” on his daughter and looking into her bedroom window.
After being read his Miranda rights, Zamora allegedly told Wilson that he beat the man with a stick he found nearby. Zamora saw Paulson standing in an alley, and his “anger and rage was growing” before he charged at the man, according to Wilson. He allegedly hit Paulson over 30 times, leaving the 74-year-old man with deep cuts to his head.
Wilson said that Zamora said he briefly left the man in the alley before he returned to punch him in the face twice. Zamora allegedly told Wilson that Paulson was unconscious when he delivered the additional blows.
Wilson said Zamora then returned to his home, which was nearby, and disposed of his clothes and the stick used in the attack. Police found the bag of clothes after obtaining a search warrant for his home.
Police also interviewed Zamora’s girlfriend and scraped information from her phone. Wilson said police found a photo sent to her and taken by Zamora shortly after the attack. The photo, shown in court, depicted what appears to be Paulson’s bloodied body in the same spot where his body was found, his face unrecognizable. The woman tried to delete the photo, but police were able to obtain it, Wilson said.
Judge Camille Neider ruled Tuesday afternoon there was enough probable cause to move the case forward, prompting Boyle to enter not guilty pleas to both charges on behalf of his client.
Because Zamora is being held on a no-bail order, Neider pushed for setting trial dates sooner rather than later. Both sides ultimately set the jury trial to start on Sept. 17, 2019 in Ogden.
Prosecutors and Wilson eluded to witness statements that placed Zamora near the crime scene shortly before the attack, but prosecutors declined to have them testify at the preliminary hearing. They said those witnesses will likely be called to testify during the jury trial.
Zamora’s next court appearance will take place on Feb. 4 for a pretrial conference.