OGDEN — Earlier this week, a Weber County jury found an Ogden teen guilty of murder.
Xavier Soto, 19, was convicted of one count of murder, a first-degree felony, after a jury deliberated for a little under two hours on Monday. The jury also unanimously found that Soto “used a dangerous weapon in commission or furtherance of the crime,” a finding that could enhance his potential prison sentence.
Soto was also allowed to plead no contest to one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a third-degree felony. A “no contest” plea is similar to that of a guilty plea, however the individual charged does not have to admit fault.
Soto walked into the Weber County Sheriff’s Office and turned himself into police custody on Feb. 13. His arrest came days after police after publicly named him as a suspect in the stabbing death of 28-year-old DJ Parkinson, who was found lying in a patch of grass in the 2200 block of Monroe Boulevard around 9:50 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2.
A search warrant unsealed in November indicated the official cause of Parkinson’s death, as medical examiners found that a laceration to the man’s left ventricle caused his death. The document also revealed that Parkinson suffered a stab wound more than four inches wide and “deep enough to touch the scapula.” The injury was likely caused by a weapon similar to a “large chopping kitchen-style knife,” according to the warrant.
Police found Parkinson in an Ogden alleyway and administered first aid before he was rushed to a hospital. The warrant states that recent snowfall and precipitation hindered investigators from examining where Parkinson was found.
“A torrential downpour of rain, sleet and hail washed away, scrubbed and then covered up any evidence that may have been left on the ground by means of blood,” the warrant states.
During a preliminary hearing in April, prosecutors outlined a bulk of the evidence against Soto.
Witnesses told the court in April how they had heard an argument between Soto and a woman. One witness said she heard the argument before Parkinson went outside and the situation calmed down.
The witness said that Parkinson went up to a man believed to be Soto and “nudged him” just before Parkinson took off running, with the other man giving chase. She said she didn’t see where the two went, and walked back to her mother’s nearby apartment building, thinking Parkinson would be there.
Investigators later found a nearby surveillance camera that reportedly showed one man running away from another, with the man in the rear — believed to be Soto — allegedly make a “stabbing motion” downward toward the person in front.
That security footage was the subject of two motions leading up to the trial. Soto’s attorney, Randall Richards, attempted to have the footage suppressed after filing a motion on Nov. 24. He argued that showing the jury the surveillance footage — that reportedly showed the two from very far away — would have a prejudicial impact on the jury.
The state rebuffed Richard’s argument, saying the footage was “highly relevant” and would not mislead members of the jury if shown the video. Prosecutors called Richard’s motion “a last-ditch effort to exclude or limit the damage from highly relevant and probative evidence,” according to the court filing.
Judge Joseph Bean later ruled in favor of the state and denied Richard’s motion just after jury selection and prior to opening statements.
Soto has been in the custody of the Weber County Jail since he turned himself into law enforcement custody. He will remain in jail without bail. The teen’s sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 29, 2020 in Ogden’s 2nd District Court.