OGDEN — A man who shot two Ogden women, one fatally, has agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree felony manslaughter, attorneys said in court Wednesday.
Sergio Arturo Chavez, 42, was charged with shooting his estranged wife, Stephanie Louise Chavez, four times, then shooting and wounding her friend as she fled from his home on July 1, 2020.
Under a proposed plea bargain filed in 2nd District Court on Wednesday morning, Chavez is to plead guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree felony manslaughter, plus a count of first-degree felony attempted murder as originally charged.
The Weber County Attorney’s Office initially charged Chavez with first-degree murder. In the plea bargain, that count was reduced to manslaughter and prosecutors agreed to drop four second-degree felony counts of use or possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person. They also dropped charges of obstructing justice, possessing forged documents and possessing illegal narcotics.
As specified in the plea deal, the manslaughter charge carries a possible term of one to 15 years in prison and the attempted murder count is punishable by three years to life.
But during an online hearing before Judge Joseph Bean, confusion arose over whether Chavez had been adequately informed about particulars of the plea deal.
As Bean went through pro forma questioning of Chavez about his understanding of the deal and his agreement to it, the defendant answered through a Spanish interpreter that he had not read or heard the Spanish translation of the document.
“I’ve gone over this with him three times,” Chavez’s attorney, Emily Swenson, told the judge. “He speaks English, but he has trouble understanding some of the court lingo.”
Swenson said she would like more time to talk to Chavez again to ensure he understands the plea, and deputy Weber County Attorney Teral Tree agreed to a delay “to make sure there are no problems.”
Bean scheduled another hearing for Friday afternoon to complete the plea bargain acceptance process and set a sentencing date.
In a preliminary hearing Feb. 12, Tree outlined evidence he said showed that Chavez was ready to kill his wife, having sent numerous text and Facebook messages threatening her life.
The woman who survived the shooting testified that she saw Chavez shoot his estranged wife in the head and torso and then felt burning in her arm, realizing she had been shot as well. She then heard more shots as she ran outside.
Swenson argued the fatal shooting was in self-defense because Stephanie Chavez, unannounced, kicked down a locked bedroom door.