Provo • A 32-year-old Orem man could spend up to life in prison for his involvement in a murder-for-hire drug scheme last May.
Yuri Sanchez Lara was sentenced Tuesday to five years to life for hiring two men, Darrell Wayne Morris, 38, and Danny LeRoy Logue, 45, to hurt 32-year-old Andy Purcell, who Lara thought had worked as a confidential informant with Orem police.
Lara pleaded guilty in 4th District Court on Tuesday to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, reduced from first-degree aggravated murder. He also pleaded guilty to four first-degree felony counts of possession of a controlled substance in connection to heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy that were found in his car when he was arrested in connection to Purcell’s death.
Judge Steven Hansen ordered the man to serve one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for the manslaughter charge, and five years to life for the drug charges, all of which will run concurrently.
Morris and Logue were charged in June 2011 with first-degree felony aggravated murder after a confidential informant told police that Lara had hired Morris to hurt Purcell.
According to charges, Lara contacted Morris to injure Purcell in exchange for an ounce of methamphetamine. Morris was given a half-ounce before the shooting and the rest after Lara learned Purcell was in the hospital, charges state. Logue allegedly was with Morris at the time of the shooting.
During a September preliminary hearing, William Thompson, who bought drugs from Lara, testified that Lara had wanted to hurt Purcell because he thought Purcell had told police about a cache of methamphetamine kept in Lara’s storage unit.
But Orem Police Officer Scott Spieth testified that Purcell was not the person who informed on Lara, rather it was a woman who was caught with methamphetamine.
Purcell died May 17, 2011, a day after he was found on his mother’s porch with a gunshot wound in his forehead.
Deputy Utah County Attorney Curtis Larson said prosecutors felt Lara’s plea deal was appropriate because he never specifically told the two men to kill Purcell. “He contracted with the men to go injure him, beat him up,” Larson said after the hearing. “Not to kill him.”
Larson said the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole could keep Lara in prison for much of his life based on the drug convictions. When Lara is released, he likely will be deported back to Guatemala because he was in the country on a green card, but is not a legal citizen, Larson said.
Also Tuesday, Morris and Logue both pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, with Logue telling the judge he was “absolutely not guilty.”
Trial dates have not been set for Morris and Logue. A scheduling conference is planned for Oct. 30.
Larson said that testifying against the two men was not part of Lara’s plea deal.