OGDEN — The trial has begun for a North Ogden man charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of a man in 2018.
A clean-shaven Dalton James Aiken, 28, was dressed in a black suit with a blue shirt and tie for the first day of testimony Thursday. Jury selection took place the day prior, according to court records.
Aiken is facing two charges, one count of murder, a first-degree felony, and one count of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony. Aiken pleaded not guilty to both charges during an October court hearing. Aiken was charged for his alleged role in the death of 28-year-old Brian Racine, who was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head on Aug. 16, 2018 at a transient camp near Ogden’s 21st Street Pond.
Aiken’s counsel indicated that they plan to call him to testify during the trial, saying that he’s ready to share his side of the story. One of Aiken’s attorneys, Rand Lunceford, said that Aiken is ready to tell the good and bad of what went on that night.
“He’s ready to tell you everything,” Lunceford said to the 10-member jury.
During opening statements, Deputy Weber County Attorney Matthew Hansen outlined the prosecution’s course for their case. Hansen began his statement by asking a rhetorical question: what is this trial about? Hansen used an alleged statement Aiken told police during an interview as the answer. Aiken allegedly told police that he and another man, Cory Michael Fitzwater, 35, were “fixing America’s problem” of dealing with transient or homeless people.
Hansen said the case consists of two investigations. The first was done by the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, after a deputy allegedly found marijuana in a parking lot near the 21st Street Pond that night. The officer, Deputy Brexton Winterbottom, testified Thursday that he noticed a bag of marijuana on the seat of a truck that night, and he waited for the driver to drive away from the area. Once that happened, Winterbottom pulled over the vehicle and placed the driver under arrest. The driver he arrested was Aiken, and Fitzwater was in the passenger seat.
The other investigation Hansen referred to in the case was regarding a call placed to Ogden Police, when a man called to say that another man was unresponsive with his “brains coming out of his head.” The officer who responded to the call, OPD Officer Joseph Richardson, was on the stand Thursday morning and talked about the thick, wooded forest area that he had to traverse in order to find Racine’s body.
During the defense’s opening statement, Lunceford encouraged the jury to focus on the case as a whole, and to withhold any judgement or preconceived notations of Aiken until the full details of the case were presented.
Lunceford thanked the jury of ordinary citizens for taking the time out of their days to be in court. He said that like them, Aiken is just another regular person.
“He is an ordinary person too,” Lunceford said. “But one thing he is not, is he his not a murderer.”
Lunceford said that Aiken will take the stand later in the trial once prosecutors have rested their case. Lunceford said Aiken will tell the court everything, “from start to finish.” He said that Aiken was scared when he was arrested by deputies, just minutes after witnessing a horrible ordeal. Lunceford said Aiken was “horrified of what Cory did,” saying he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Winterbottom testified that he took Aiken into custody that night for marijuana possession and later observed a handgun in the backseat of the vehicle. The bullets recovered from the car, as well as inside Aiken’s pocket, would later prove to be similar to the casing found near Racine’s body. The gun found in the vehicle was not loaded, but a magazine for the gun was found on the passenger’s seat of the truck.
The third and final witness who testified Thursday morning was Sara McKenzie, a member of the Weber County Metro CSI. McKenzie said that investigators found that the bullet that killed Racine went through his body, through a mat he was laying on and into the ground. Investigators were able to recover the bullet in the ground, which was similar to those allegedly found in Aiken’s pocket.
Aiken’s trial will continue in Ogden’s 2nd District Court throughout Thursday and Friday. The trial will pick back up starting in the morning of Tuesday, June 11. The trial is scheduled to continue through Friday, June 14.
Aiken is being held without bail at the Weber County Jail.
The other man charged in connection to Racine’s murder, Fitzwater, has his jury trial set to begin in November. His next court appearance will be for a preliminary hearing on June 18 regarding two additional felony charges filed against him in May.