SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Court of Appeals has denied the innocence claim of an Ogden man convicted of two aggravated murders in a gang-related shooting in 2010.
The appeal of Riqo Mariano Perea, 31, was officially struck down in an appeals court decision published Thursday, Dec. 20.
Perea was given a life sentence without parole for shooting at a wedding party held by a rival gang in 2007, killing two people and injuring two more. In 2010, a jury convicted Perea of two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of attempted murder after he signed a confession to the shooting.
The appeals court decision is the latest in the long line of appeals made by Perea in the case.
After Perea’s conviction in 2010 by an Ogden district court, he appealed the decision to the Utah Supreme Court, which upheld the decision in a 2013 dissent citing “the overwhelming evidence of Mr. Perea’s guilt,” according to court documents.
Perea again tried to appeal the district court’s ruling by petitioning for post-conviction relief, but the appeal was dismissed in 2017 after the district court said the basis of his petition was adjudicated by state supreme court.
A different wave of appeals in the case began in 2015. A woman who testified at Perea’s trial and said under oath that she saw Perea shoot the four victims provided a sworn affidavit to Perea’s attorneys claiming that she “never saw Perea with a gun that evening,” according to the appeal court’s dissent. She went on to say that “the police were pressuring [her] to testify in a certain way” during Perea’s 2010 district court trial.
There were only two other witnesses who could name Perea as the shooter, his petition claimed, and they were both suspects who testified against Perea in exchange for immunity.
The woman’s affidavit was the basis of a new petition for post-conviction relief on the basis of factual innocence.
However, the new appeal yielded the same results as before.
In April 2017, an Ogden judge ruled in an opinion that the testimony did not prove Perea’s innocence, and said that the testimony only says that the witness couldn’t see who shot the gun.
Perea once again appealed the court’s decision, saying the district court should have held an evidence hearing before making its ruling.
In the state appeals court’s decision, Presiding Judge Gregory Orme said the witness’ statement doesn’t overcome all other evidence that indicates Perea was pulling the trigger. “Even with Witness recanting, all other evidence still points to Perea firing the gun from the vehicle into the crowd,” Orme said in the decision.
In the past year, Perea pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault while in custody of the Utah State Prison in Draper. He and four other prisoners were accused of stabbing a fellow prisoner over 30 times on July 27, 2016.