OGDEN — During a brief hearing Tuesday, a Hooper man pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he tried to bribe others in jail to tell police another man was responsible for a 2018 murder in Ogden.
Cory Michael Fitzwater, 35, pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
The Tuesday preliminary hearing consisted of prosecutors entering signed witness statements into the record and a brief cross examination of Detective Steve Haney with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. Haney interviewed the witnesses and was present when they signed the witness statements regarding their testimony.
After reading the statements, Judge Camille Neider found probable cause for the case to move forward. Defense attorney Randall Richards entered not guilty pleas for Fitzwater, who was present in court for the Tuesday hearing.
Fitzwater is one of two people charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of 28-year-old Brian Racine on Aug. 16, 2018 near the 21st Street Pond in Ogden. Fitzwater pleaded not guilty to the first-degree felony murder charge and a second-degree felony charge of possession of a firearm by a restricted person on Sept. 12, 2018.
The other man, 28-year-old Dalton Aiken, was recently found guilty by a jury of the murder charge for his role in Racine’s death.
In May, the Weber County Attorney’s Office filed new charges against Fitzwater. They alleged that Fitzwater approached others at the Weber County Jail and offered them money if they told investigators that his codefendant, Aiken, was telling people in jail that he committed the murder, and that Fitzwater was innocent.
The three witness statements entered into evidence Tuesday consisted of statements from three people in jail whom Fitzwater allegedly approached to then reach out to investigators.
One of the statements in the case was made by Bradley Eppley, who was being held at the Central Utah Correctional Facility when police interviewed him about his alleged interactions with Fitzwater in jail.
Eppley told police that Fitzwater had approached him to testify on his behalf, saying he would give Eppley $500 on his jail account and “whatever Defendant (Fitzwater) saved in attorney fees,” according to a motion filed by prosecutors to keep Fitzwater in jail without bail.
Neither Eppley nor Shepard received any money, according to Eppley. When Eppley asked Fitzwater about they money, Fitzwater reportedly “became aggressive.” But when Eppley assured him that he told police that Aiken was the shooter, Fitzwater became excited.
Eppley added that Fitzwater allegedly “made indirect threats of violence” if Eppley did not do what he wanted, according to the prosecutor’s motion.
Fitzwater’s next court appearance will be for an evidence hearing, which is scheduled to take place on July 12 in Ogden’s 2nd District Court.
He is being held at the Weber County Jail without bail.