OGDEN — An Ogden man will spend at least the next few years in prison after pleading guilty to amended charges connected to a fatal shooting in 2017.
Thomas Lovato, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and one count of attempted murder, a first-degree felony.
Lovato was originally charged with one count of murder, a first-degree felony; two counts of attempted murder, a first-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor.
In the plea agreement signed in August, Lovato admitted to shooting his handgun at a car while three people where inside on Jan. 24, 2017. Ernesto Martinez, a 32-year-old Ogden man, was struck in the head and died as a result of the shooting. The shooting occurred outside of the Sinclair convenience store at 110 Patterson Ave. in Ogden.
Lovato appeared in court Tuesday afternoon alongside his attorneys, Scott Williams and Cara Tangaro.
A handful of Martinez's family members told Judge Noel Hyde they hoped that Lovato would spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Martinez's mother said there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't think of her son. She told the judge that this case shouldn't have ended in a plea deal, and Lovato should have been convicted of murder, not manslaughter.
Jessica Martinez, who was in the car during the shooting, said she was sitting next to Ernesto when he was killed. She said she thought she was going to die. Martinez said she's angry, and her kids miss their uncle.
She too condemned the court's decision to allow a plea deal in the case, saying "I don't believe the system is fair."
Later, Lovato approached the court's podium and apologized for what he did, saying he wishes every day that he could change what happened.
"Nothing I can say or do can change what I've done," he said. "This is not who I always will be."
Hyde sentenced Lovato to a term of three years to life in prison for the manslaughter charge and one to 15 years for the attempted murder charge. Hyde ordered the terms to run concurrently, meaning the sentences will run at the same time.
Lovato was also ordered to pay restitution amounts of $2,025 and $3,100 in order to pay for damage to the bullet-damaged car and Ernesto's funeral expenses, respectively.
As Lovato was lead away, angry murmurs could be heard from the court's gallery.
Lovato will be transferred to the Utah Department of Corrections to serve his prison term.