Man charged in South Salt Lake murder five years later
Published: October 26, 2012 07:17PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 11:32PM
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Juan Carlos Ochoa

Police have finally charged a man in the 2007 murder of Juan Ochoa.

Steven Daniel Lucero, 26, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony murder. He was also charged with obstructing justice and a firearm violation, which are second-degree felonies. Police suspect that Lucero shot and killed Ochoa, 24, in the parking lot of a South Salt Lake flower shop on Oct. 7, 2007.

Investigators had arrested Lucero two days after Ochoa’s death, but they lacked enough evidence then to charge him. That changed after several confidential informants revealed to the investigating detective that Lucero had told them that he shot and killed Ochoa, according to the charges.

“Finally, some closure,” said Daniel Ochoa, whose older brother came to Utah from their home in Washington state for a construction job and never returned.

About 2:30 a.m., an emergency medical technician was in his ambulance near the flower shop at 3300 South 300 West when he saw an argument between two males. One was in a Buick Riviera, the other standing by the driver’s door.

The EMT heard three gunshots and saw the Buick drive away. Ochoa collapsed and died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Police said Ochoa hadn’t been robbed, and his death didn’t appear to be gang-related.

Two days later, officers found the Buick that the EMT saw and arrested its driver, Lucero. He had hidden the car under a tarp and made plans to have it repainted, and the windows had been recently cleaned.

Lucero also told the investigating detective that he owns the Buick, no one else drives it and that no one else had the car at the time of shooting, according to the charges.

But that wasn’t enough to charge him with murder. Still, Lucero remained a person of interest in the case for years and police and Ochoa’s family hoped that someone would come forward with new evidence. After five years, they got their wish.

Lucero was arrested Friday and booked into Salt Lake County Jail.

mmcfall@sltrib.com