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Man admits to ‘horrific’ Farmington freeway murder, faces 15-life in prison

By Mark Shenefelt - | Sep 27, 2021

Photo supplied, Davis County Jail

Oscar Cuevas-Landa

FARMINGTON — Oscar Cuevas-Landa faces 15 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to repeatedly stabbing a woman as they traveled on Interstate 15 and shoving her out of the moving vehicle.

“He pleaded guilty as charged. There was no plea bargain,” deputy Davis County Attorney Nathan Lyon said Monday. “The crime was pretty horrific, heartbreaking and violent and there was simply going to be no plea bargain.”

Cuevas-Landa, 19, of West Valley City, entered the plea Sept. 20 before 2nd District Judge Michael Edwards, according to court records. The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set sentencing for Nov. 1.

Shilo Marie Stewart, 34, of Fruit Heights, gave Cuevas-Landa a ride on Aug. 16, 2020, according to Stewart family members and charging documents. Soon she was dead on Interstate 15 and Cuevas-Landa was arrested in Farmington, shirtless, bloody and missing a shoe. He told police he had taken LSD and smoked marijuana, the arrest affidavit said.

Cuevas-Landa told police Stewart “looked at him wrong” and he pulled a knife and stabbed her multiple times, the affidavit said. Cuevas-Landa then unbuckled her seat belt and pushed her out of the vehicle, the charging documents said.

An autopsy revealed that Stewart died from sharp force trauma caused by the knife and blunt force trauma to her head caused by falling from the moving vehicle, according to the affidavit.

“Maybe that will come out at sentencing,” Lyon said when asked about a motive for the crime.  “We don’t have that information.” Efforts to contact Ronald Fujino, Cuevas-Landa’s attorney, were not immediately successful.

State law says the first-degree felony murder charge calls for an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life in prison, which Edwards will be obligated to impose. “Whatever mitigation may or may not exist” will be heard at the sentencing, Lyon said, but it will be up to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole whether Cuevas-Landa ultimately will service time “further north of 15 years.”

In a GoFundMe post shortly after her death, a relative of Stewart said, “Shilo was taken tragically by a ruthless, immature, violent person. She was stabbed repeatedly and thrown out of the driver’s side door at freeway speeds like she was garbage.”

The relative added, “All Shilo was trying to do was help a stranger in need and that’s the type of person that she was.”

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