LOGAN — A 59-year-old Logan man is being bound over for trial on charges of allegedly shooting and killing his co-worker in August. Lorenzo Tena-Vasquez pleaded “not guilty” to all of the charges after his defense attorney continued to claim the suspect was merely defending himself after being threatened by the alleged victim.
Tena-Vasquez appeared in 1st District Court for a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon. He was previously charged with one count of murder and six counts of felony discharge of a firearm, all first-degree felonies; and a seventh count of felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony.
Prosecutors claimed Tena-Vasquez allegedly shot and killed Arellano Nieto Yovani, a 29-year-old man, at a home construction site in Millville, Aug. 12. He later surrendered to law enforcement, allegedly still with blood on his clothing and admitting he had shot the man. The suspected weapon was later located inside his truck.
Tena-Vasquez reportedly told deputies that he and Yovani had been in an argument earlier that morning about his work, in which the victim had threatened him. He said that after the fight he left the job site and went back to his home and was fearful and angry about having been threatened. He took a handgun and returned to the construction site, finding Yovani in a basement room and shooting him six-seven times.
Utah State Crime Lab forensic scientist Hoa Trinh testified about leading the investigation and what the crime scene looked like when she arrived hours after the shooting. She displayed photos of Yovani’s body, with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and lying in pool of dried blood. There were also multiple shell casings and bullet fragments found throughout the basement room.
Some of Yovani’s family were seated in the courtroom during the two hour hearing. They were seen crying and wiping away tears as prosecutors displayed multiple photos of the crime scene.
Trinh testified that the suspected handgun, found inside Tena-Vasquez’s truck, had “reddish-brown splatters” on it and a bullet in the chamber. There was also a loaded shotgun in the bed of the truck.
Cache County sheriff’s investigator Kevin Bennett said an autopsy ruled Yovani’s death as a homicide. Pathologists determined there were six gunshot wounds in the victim’s torso and one in the leg. Some of the bullets punctured his right lung, liver, pancreas and intestines.
Defense attorney Bryan Sidwell asked investigators whether they had found any evidence of Yovani’s alleged ties to a Mexican cartel. He also noted that the victim had threatened his client with a knife during the argument.
Bennett said he never found any cartel ties on Yovani’s social media accounts. A utility knife though was found in a windowsill of the basement.
Following a brief recess to review the evidence, Judge Brian Cannell ruled that prosecutors had presented sufficient proof to bind Tena-Vasquez over on all eight charges. He ordered the suspect to appear again in court Dec. 8.
Tena-Vasquez didn’t testify during the hearing. He is being held in jail without bail and could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Individuals arrested and charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.