Utah man arrested in parking lot hit-and-run killing

(Photo courtesy of the Cedar City Police Department) Police believe this is the car that struck and killed a man in a Home Depot parking lot on Monday.

A Utah man has been charged with intentionally running down and killing another man with his car in a Cedar City parking lot.

Jacob Wayne Schmidt, 25, has been charged in 5th District Court with murder, a first-degree felony.

According to a probable cause statement, the 37-year-old victim and a woman were walking in the parking lot of a Home Depot at 1518 S. Providence Center Dr. when, according to witnesses, a car drove directly at them. It nearly hit them, then turned around and hit and ran over the victim “as he was trying to run away.”

The driver then immediately fled the scene. The victim — whose name has not been released — died shortly thereafter at the Cedar City Hospital.

Police identified the car as an older Dodge Stratus and obtained photos of the car, which had no license plates on it. On Tuesday, police received a report of a vehicle matching its description at 5100 W. 100 South. The VIN was covered by a dashmat and there was damage to the front end.

After obtaining a search warrant, police found strands of hair and black fabric on the car’s undercarriage. The victim was wearing a black shirt and black sweatpants when he was struck.

Police said they received a call from a witness who said his employee, Schmidt, owned a car similar to the Dodge Stratus, and that Schmidt “had recently had some problems with the victim” and “was upset” with him.

On Wednesday, police received a call from Schmidt’s father, stating that his wife had received a message from their son saying “he had to get rid of his car” after “an accident.” Jacob Schmidt “told his father he had an accident at the Home Depot” and went on to say that “he had an argument with the victim and that the victim had beat Jacob up,” according to the probable cause statement.

Schmidt “told his father someone told him to just take the victim out,” police wrote, “and from what Jacob’s father understood,” his son “ran the person over.”

After Schmidt was arrested without incident at his workplace, his employer told police the 25-year-old said “he hit the victim with the car and crushed his chest” because the victim “had not come through on a deal.” According to the witness, Schmidt said he went to “confront” the victim, intending to “beat him up,” but when the victim “started to get smart,” he “hit him with the car.”

When interviewed by police, Schmidt denied any involvement in the killing; denied owning the Dodge Stratus; and denied having the conversations reported by his father and employer. Schmidt told police he “met some guy on the side of the road that was having car issues” and offered to “fix the car.”

According to police, when Schmidt was searched, a key that fit the Dodge Stratus was found in his pocket.

Schmidt was booked into the Iron County jail, where he is being held without bail.

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