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Utah man charged with murder of cousin

Published January 23, 2013 10:14 pm

Crime • Documents say victim, David Urrutia, was killed by blows to the head.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Prosecutors have charged a man with killing his cousin inside the victim's camp trailer in Fort Duchesne.

Jose Eduardo Leiva-Perez, 34, who has not been apprehended, was charged with first-degree felony murder in 8th District Court. Prosecutors filed the charges Jan. 10, but the documents were sealed until Wednesday to give law enforcement a chance to arrest him. Along with the charges, prosecutors filed a warrant for Leiva-Perez's arrest, without bail.

Deputies found the body of his cousin David Urrutia, 39, inside the trailer at the Country Village Mobile Home Park on Jan. 7. Urrutia's sister had called 911 and asked them to check on him.

The sister told a detective that Leiva-Perez had called another family member and said that three men had come to the trailer and beat Urrutia with a baseball bat, and that Leiva-Perez had fled for his life in Urrutia's car, according to the charges.

The medical examiner concluded that Urrutia had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

A detective who went by the trailer thought it would be difficult for five adults to be inside at one time, because the trailer is only 24 feet long and 8 feet wide, with one door. It would also be "next to impossible" for someone who is already inside to escape three attackers, the charges add.

Also, there were no signs of a struggle and blood splatter patterns in the trailer indicated Urrutia was lying on the bed when he was hit. The medical examiner found no defensive wounds on Urrutia's body, and concluded he would not have been aware of the pending lethal attack.

Investigators confirmed that Leiva-Perez never called police after the alleged attack, according to the charges.

One of Urrutia's coworkers told police that the victim had gone to the bank the previous week and made a large withdrawal, possibly $2,500. Urrutia's sister added that Urrutia had a girlfriend in Guatemala who believed he was going to send her $13,000.

Urrutia was always known to carry a wallet, but police did not find any money in his wallet or anywhere in the trailer, aside from a small amount of change.

Then Urrutia's car turned up abandoned on the side of the road in southern California.

The day Urrutia died, Leiva-Perez was the only one living with him and the dead bolt was locked when deputies went to check on him, according to the charges. Investigators don't believe Urrutia locked it from the inside, and the key required to lock it from the outside was not at the scene.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda