Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
AP file photo Riqo Perea in 2007
Utah high court upholds Ogden killer’s conviction

Courts » Riqo Perea’s attorney claimed numerous errors occurred during 2010 Ogden trial.

By jessica miller

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Nov 15 2013 03:51 pm • Last Updated Nov 19 2013 09:05 pm

The Utah Supreme Court on Friday upheld the murder conviction of Riqo Perea, who is serving life without the possibility of parole for the gang-related killing of two people at a post-wedding party in 2007.

In March 2010, a jury convicted Perea of two counts of aggravated murder for killing Sabrina Prieto, 22, and Rosendo Nevarez, 29, while firing into a crowd at an Ogden home the night of August 4, 2007.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Perea also was convicted of two counts of first-degree felony attempted murder for wounding two others during the gang-related drive-by shooting.

Second District Judge Ernie Jones handed down a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, rather than a less harsh prison term of 25 years to life.

Perea raised a number of issues on appeal, including that the judge precluded the testimony of an expert witnesses called by the defense.

The high court found that the judge did err by excluding testimony from one defense expert. But the justices concluded that the error was harmless and did not undermine their confidence in the guilty verdict "when viewed against the backdrop of Mr. Perea’s overwhelming guilt."

Perea — who was 19 years old at the time of the shooting — confessed to police that he was the one who leaned out of the front passenger-side window of an SUV and fired over the roof of the car into the wedding party.

Prosecutors claimed at trial that an insult from a rival gang member was all it took for Perea to pull a gun and fire into the crowd.

"In the gang world, it’s all about respect, and it’s all about retaliation," Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward told jurors during closing arguments. "Riqo Perea was going to show he was the biggest and baddest."

But defense attorney Randy Richards argued that Perea was ordered by an older gang member to "take the rap" for the shooting, and that Perea confessed to protect his family.

story continues below
story continues below

On appeal, attorney Samuel Newton argued before the high court in February that Jones erred by not allowing a defense expert to testify about why people falsely confess to crimes they did not commit.

Newton also argued that Jones ruled prior to the trial that a computer-animated reenactment prepared for the defense could be used at trial, but in the middle of the trial prosecutors raised an issue with the reenactment and Jones changed his mind.

This was unfair, Newton argued, because prosecutors were able to show a reenactment of their version of events.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher Ballard said in February that the defense video was not shown to the jury because of issues with the reenactment, including questions about who created it and because it contained factual errors such as an incorrect bullet trajectory and use of the wrong type of vehicle.


Twitter: @jm_miller

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.