Investigators trace gun used to kill Ogden grocer; Kaysville man charged
OGDEN — A 21-year-old Kaysville man faces two federal firearms charges after Weber County authorities said they traced the source of the handgun used to kill Ogden grocer Satnam Singh.
Weber County Attorney Christopher Allred said Monday investigators learned that the gun had been stolen in Park City. The investigation led to federal charges against Taydon Law for allegedly possessing the weapon on Jan. 7.
Singh, 65, was gunned down behind the counter of his neighborhood grocery late on the night of Feb. 28. Antonio Garcia, 16, of Ogden, faces two first-degree felony charges in the death.
“He never did fess up on where he got the gun,” Allred said of Garcia. “But we did eventually find out where he got it.”
Law was charged in U.S. District Court on May 5 with possession of a stolen firearm and felon in possession of the firearm, a Ruger LC9. Deputy attorneys in Allred’s office filed the federal charges in their capacity as assistant U.S. attorneys. Prosecutors file many firearms charges in federal rather than state courts because the penalties are more severe.
U.S. Magistrate Cecilia Romero in a May 20 hearing allowed Law to remain free pending trial with conditions. But he may not be out of jail much longer — the federal pretrial services office on Friday filed a violation report alleging Law was found using narcotics and has failed to report for drug and alcohol testing or treatment.
Efforts to contact Law’s federal public defender, Kristen Angelos, were not immediately successful.
Garcia, meanwhile, is awaiting his first appearance in 2nd District Court. In a 2nd District Juvenile Court hearing, Judge Debra Jensen certified that the case against Garcia will be heard in the adult court.
Ogden police said in charging documents that Garcia obtained a gun and went to rob the grocery because he was short on cash. Prosecutors said he shot four times at the grocer, who died at the scene. Police said they found the gun in Garcia’s home but he would not tell them where he got it.
The certification included terms of a plea bargain, in which Garcia has agreed to admit to a reduced charge of felony discharge of a weapon involving death, a first-degree felony. He originally was charged with aggravated murder, which carries a term of 25 years to life in prison upon conviction. The lesser charge has a penalty of five years to life.
Garcia also is pleading guilty as charged to first-degree felony aggravated robbery, another charge with a five-years-to-life penalty.
The plea deal says Garcia will be held in a secure juvenile facility, the Weber Valley Detention Center in Ogden, until he is 21. At that point, his case will be under the jurisdiction of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, which could grant him parole or send him to prison to serve more time.
Allred said Monday plea negotiations had been in progress for months. “This isn’t some knee-jerk reaction,” he said.
He said the interests of the state and the defendant were both served, considering the uncertainty of the outcome otherwise. If Garcia’s case stayed in the juvenile system — the question Jensen was evaluating — the prosecution would lose the ability to have any jurisdiction over Garcia after age 25. The defense on the other hand had to weigh the risk of a conviction of 25 years to life in district court.
“This is what led to the agreement that you have now,” Allred said. “He is pleading guilty to two first-degree felonies at five to life. And so he would do as much as life, in theory, or the Board of Pardons could parole him at any time (after five years).”
Garcia’s attorney, Ron Nichols, said in court Friday that the plea bargain “leaves a very good reason for the minor to go ahead and aim for rehabilitation on his own.”
Allred said attorneys discussed the plea bargain extensively with Singh’s family “to make sure they were consulted and were comfortable with” the outcome.
Garcia’s case now goes before District Judge Jennifer Valencia, who will hear the plea bargain. No sentencing date has been set.
Singh brought his family to America from India in the 1970s. He became an institution in the neighborhood of Super Grocery on north Monroe Boulevard. Community sorrow over his death and the outpouring of appreciation for the man led to an effort to name a section of a street after him.