The Justice Files: Mischief leads to murder

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Paris Gustin made a mistake and it cost him his life.

It was the Fourth of July in 2016 when Ashley Carter and her son returned home from a family gathering. Carter said he was planning on going to bed early because he had to be at work the following day.

She had no idea his friends were contacting him.

“He left with some friends, snuck out and never came home,” said Carter. “He was murdered.”

Overnight, police in Salt Lake City responded to a 911 call. There was a shooting on American Avenue near Jordan Park. When they arrived Gustin was dead.

They later learned Gustin and his friends were throwing eggs at vehicles. But one struck the wrong vehicle.  The driver returned home, got a gun, and had a friend drive him in pursuit of a “white vehicle.” Once that car was spotted police said they pursued the vehicle and began firing. Gustin who was in the back seat was hit in the back and head.

At the time, police had no suspects and a month later, Paris’ mother pleaded for help at a news conference.

“This is a message to whoever killed my son,” she said at the press briefing. “You have not only robbed my child of his life but my family and I, of ours. You hunted my child and his friends down as they fled in terror and for what?”

Carter said instead of the public helping, she said the response was brutal. On social media, she was attacked for her son’s behavior that night.

”My son wasn’t raised to do that,” she told ABC4. “You go from the victim to being attacked by your fellow community because they’re asking ‘what kind of mother were you?’ I even had people saying ‘he deserved it.’”

It left her saddened and depressed.

In the fall, police got their first tip following the arrest of a 23-year old who rammed a police car during a chase.

Jonathan Padilla-Lopez claimed he heard a friend say that he was “upset that some boys threw something at him.”

He told police the person retrieved a “big gun with a big ass clip” to go look for the boys”

Five-months later, police questioned Martin Antonio Cruz who confirmed that so-called friend was Fortunato Villagrana.  Cruz claimed he was the triggerman.

In February 2017, Both Cruz and Villagrana were charged with Paris’ murder.

But something went wrong. Thursday in part two of this story, Carter was angry and frustrated upon learning that Villagrana fled and has yet to be caught.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates


More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files

Trending Stories