Case against Utah man charged with murder in fatal hit-and-run stemming from confrontation over alleged dog abuse to move forward

(Courtesy Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office) Aaron Daniel Hosman

Aaron Daniel Hosman — charged with hitting and killing another man with a car in June, after the victim had confronted Hosman about beating a dog — has been ordered to stand trial for murder.

The fatal hit came after the altercation over the dog abuse had subsided. Hosman had walked away from the two men who aggressively confronted him, and got into his car, according to testimony at a Tuesday preliminary hearing.

Then he saw one of the men, Jeremy Hardman, get out of the car and walk back into the street. Hardman was searching for a bag of methamphetamine he had misplaced. That’s when Hosman turned around, accelerated and hit Hardman, killing him, prosecutors say.

Hardman, 47, was sent flying at least 54 feet through the air. He came to a stop when he hit a utility pole.

On Tuesday, 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris ruled that the prosecution had shown probable cause to move the case froward. A pretrial conference has been scheduled for Monday.

Hosman, 40, is charged with first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony obstructing justice and class B misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Hardman and his coworker, Jason Estes, were headed to a carpet installation job on June 7 around 4 p.m. when they saw a man punching a Chihuahua near 3600 West and 4100 South in West Valley City, Estes testified Tuesday during a preliminary hearing.

Estes said the man was on his knees, holding the little dog down. Then Estes said he saw the man cock his arm back and punch the dog.

The two pulled over to confront the man, who turned out to be Hosman, and try to get the dog away from him, Estes said, adding that Hardman was “irate.”

Estes said he and Hardman talked about beating Hosman up, and upon getting out of the car they took a fighting stance. Estes said he used aggressive language to try and instigate Hosman into throwing a punch.

“I’m going to f---ing cut you,” Hardman said to Hosman, according to Estes’ testimony.

Hosman didn’t take the bait. Estes said Hosman didn’t say anything, walked away and got into a black sedan and drove off. Estes and Hardman got back into Estes’ vehicle.

Estes testified that when they got into the vehicle, Hardman realized he had lost a baggie of methamphetamine. Estes said he had used meth earlier in the day, and that he and Hardman were about to use meth. He was not sure if Hardman had used meth prior to the altercation with Hosman.

As they looked around for the drugs, Hosman had apparently turned around and pulled up alongside Estes’ vehicle. He yelled at the two to follow him, seemingly to fight.

Estes testified that at that point, he and Hardman had essentially gotten over the situation and they paid no mind to Hosman as he drove off. Hardman then got out of the car to search for the meth in the street.

Around that time, Hosman made a U-turn and headed north. He bypassed backed up traffic by veering into the oncoming traffic lane and taking a sharp left, where he found Hardman in the crosswalk.

Hosman struck Hardman, who fell into the windshield and then bounced off. Rosa Martinez, who was on her way to school, testified that she saw Hardman do three flips in the air before hitting a utility pole.

Hosman sped off. Using witness reports, police were able to get a description of his car, a black Lexus, which they fed to news media. Hosman was found three days later after a citizen called in to report a sighting of his car, which had been poorly spray painted and had the tires changed in order to disguise it.

Upon arrest, Hosman agreed to talk to West Valley City Detective John Dietrich. Hosman didn’t dispute hitting Hardman, fleeing the scene or trying to disguise the car. He did deny committing murder.

Hosman said he wasn’t punching the dog, but rather slapping it to discipline it after it ran off. He said when confronted by Hardman and Estes, he walked away to his car. Hosman said that when he took a U-turn to re-engage Estes and Hardman, he saw them shuffling around in the car.

Hosman told Dietrich he thought they were looking for a gun. A subsequent search of the vehicle by police did not find any firearms.

Hosman said he had been shot at a month earlier and was still shaken up by it. He fled south but then did a U-turn when he saw Hardman get out of the vehicle. He said he thought Hardman was going to shoot him.

Hosman then drove back toward Estes and Hardman. He went to turn left at the intersection of 3600 West and 4100 South, but traffic was backed up, so he cut around in the oncoming lane.

Hosman made a “fast turn” according to testimony from eyewitness Brenda Lopez.

As he turned left, Hosman told Dietrich, he saw Hardman. He said he tried to avoid Hardman, but Hardman jumped in front of his car.

After hitting Hardman, Hosman said he fled because he was scared.

Prosecutor Byron Burmester said there were around 10-20 witnesses on the scene when police arrived. One was Jennifer Norton, a nurse at St. Mark's Hospital.

Norton said she saw Hardman “hurling” through the air.

“He looked like a crash-test dummy,” she said in court Tuesday.

Norton testified that when she got to Hardman, she thought he was dead. But then he took a deep breath.

“Every time he took a breath, more blood just gushed out of his mouth,” she said. He died about a minute later, she said.