Defendants in alleged drug-debt killing take plea deals
Two men charged in connection with a fatal shooting in Orem took plea deals in the case Tuesday afternoon.
Mason Eric French and Travis Waldron, both 24, were both charged in November with first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony obstruction of justice and felony use of a firearm by a restricted person.
Police believe French was the triggerman in the Nov. 19 shooting that killed 42-year-old Rupert E. Miley — a case that initially appeared to be a fatal car crash.
On Tuesday, both French and Waldron took plea deals in the case, pleading guilty to second-degree felony manslaugh
ter, along with felony charges of use of a firearm by a restricted person and obstruction of justice.
Sentencing is set for April 21.
According to an amended information filed in 4th District Court on Tuesday, Waldron told police that French "accidently discharged" the gun after they met up with Miley to talk about a drug dispute.
At about 3 a.m., the three met in a grocery store parking lot near 800 N. 900 East in Orem to discuss the dispute. Waldron allegedly told police that he and French got into Miley's car and at one point he held the gun to Miley's head before passing the firearm to French in the backseat.
Soon after, a shot was fired, went through the driver's seat and struck Miley in the back. Waldron told police he jumped out of the car after the gun fired and fled the scene.
When police arrived, they first believed Miley died from injuries suffered in a car crash — an accident scene which extended several blocks as Miley tried to drive himself to a hospital after the shooting.
French was found lying on the roadway near the car accident, according to court records. He gave several conflicting statements about why we was in the area, including telling the police he was a pedestrian passing through, according to court records.
French was arrested at the scene, and Waldron was taken into police custody later that day. Both men are being held in the Utah County jail.