Former prosecutor: ‘Aggravated murder requires showing the state of mind’

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – It’s been a week since Ayoola Ajayi has been arrested in the murder of 23-year-old University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck.

During a news conference on Friday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the case is still an open investigation.

Ajayi, 31, was booked on aggravated murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body on June 28th.

Formal charges are anticipated to be filed next week.

“Aggravated murder requires not only a showing that somebody caused the death of another, but it requires showing the state of mind,” said Kent Morgan, a former prosecutor.

Morgan says the district attorney’s office is now working to prove exactly what was Ajayi’s state of mind at the time of this alleged crime.

“The Catch 22 in this case places the district attorney in a situation where they’re looking at a client who maybe released if they don’t file formal charges soon,” said Morgan.

This past Tuesday, a judge agreed to extend Ajayi’s jail hold.

“The lack of evidence in this case makes it a very difficult case to show probable cause on,” said Morgan.

Morgan says the DA’s office has to make conclusions based on evidence gathered by Salt Lake City police.

That includes Friday’s announcement that Lueck’s body was located on July 3rd in Logan Canyon.

“Forensic evidence is the scientific evidence that leads us to believe only one thing,” said Morgan.

Police said Lueck’s charred tissue and some of her personal items were found in the backyard of Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home.

According to Morgan, more evidence is still needed.

“If you have tissue that is charred they you have to come to the conclusion that a body was burned,” said Morgan. “The next thing you have to decide is was the body burned shortly after death, before death, or long after death?

Morgan went on to state “long after death” is improper disposal of a body, but not much of a case. However, if you have a body that is being disposed of to hide it from the police then that shows consciousness of guilt.


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