The man accused of killing 23-year-old University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck is one step closer to a trial for unrelated charges alleging he kidnapped and sexually abused another woman in March 2018.
Ayoola Ajayi, facing four felony counts, is accused of abusing a woman he met on the Latter-day Saint dating app Mutual. After hearing testimony and arguments from attorneys, 3rd District Judge Vernice Trease determined Friday that there was enough evidence for the case to move forward to trial.
Ajayi pleaded not guilty Friday to aggravated kidnapping and three charges of forcible sexual abuse. A trial has been set for February.
In that case, prosecutors allege that Ajayi invited a woman to his home to cook her dinner on March 10, 2018, and that while they watched TV on his couch, he started “intensely” kissing her and trying to touch her inappropriately and forcefully.
When the woman attempted to get away, Ajayi allegedly pinned her down and bit her at least three times, “causing her significant pain, and left bruising and bite marks," the charges said.
The woman came forward to police after Ajayi was arrested for allegedly killing Lueck in June.
He faces charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a human body in connection with Lueck's slaying.
Lueck disappeared early June 17, when she returned to Salt Lake City after flying to California for her grandmother’s funeral. She took a Lyft from the airport to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake, where police believe she met up with Ajayi, who once lived in an apartment complex near the park, around 3 a.m. She was reported missing later that week.
Lueck’s body — charred and with her arms bound behind her back with a zip tie and rope — was found by police in Logan Canyon on July 3 beneath some trees just off the main road. An autopsy indicated she died of blunt force trauma to her head.
Investigators have searched Lueck and Ajayi’s social media profiles and online activity, and have said evidence showed the two were texting the night Lueck disappeared. But police have not disclosed how they first met.
A preliminary hearing in that case is scheduled in March.
Ajayi additionally faces 19 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after police say they found numerous pornographic photos of children on his computer as they investigated Lueck’s death.