Social media helped, hurt Ogden murder case


OGDEN, Utah (News4Utah) – Social media helped Ogden police in getting Thomas Lovato arrested.

Tuesday, Lovato was sentenced to prison for his role in the death of Ernest Martinez.

But according to prosecutors, social media also damaged their case.

Locato pleaded guilty reducing the murder charge to manslaughter and admitted to the attempted murder of a second person.

The shooting happened in 2017 outside a convenience store on Wall Avenue in Ogden.  

Police used surveillance video from the store and posted it on their Facebook page.

“They used social media to grab a picture of the suspect,” said Weber County Assistant Attorney Dee Smith.  “Through that, they were able to get a lot of leads.”

One of those possible suspects was Lovato.  Then police found his Facebook.

“They found a photograph with the same clothing, the same jacket with the video that they had located,” Smith said.

It led to Lovato’s arrest. At his sentencing, Lovato expressed regret over what happened.  But there was no direct apology to Martinez’ family.

Judge Noel Hyde sentenced him one-year-to-life in prison for the manslaughter charge and three-years-to-life for the attempted murder.  Both of the sentences will run concurrent, meaning he could be out of prison in three years.

That left Martinez’ family angry over what they considered a lenient sentence.

“I feel that the judicial system didn’t do anything for my son,” said Josie Martinez, the mother of the victim.  “It was wrong what they did.  Me and my husband tried to tell them that it was murder.  They could have killed my daughter and she was right next to him.”

Smith said Lovato claimed it was self-defense and that there was a skirmish before the shooting.  He said there was the concern had it gone to trial the jury could have found reasonable doubt.

“Another person that was there did some things (on social media) that hurt our case,” Smith said.  “Social media helped us.  But it also hurt us in this case.”

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