SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – After waiting thirteen-years for an answer, a family still doesn’t know why their loved one was murdered.
Aniceto Armendariz was murdered in 2005 by a father and son. The catholic deacon was driving home to Heber City along with his wife in a drive-by shooting.
The two men, Antonio Pelaez-Vasquez and his son Cunny Pelaez were later arrested, convicted and sent to prison. Neither men would talk about why they shot him.
Prosecutors claimed they were hit men for someone in prison. But that was never proven.
Now the father, Pelaez-Vasquez is up for parole after thirteen years in prison. During his recent parole hearing, Armendariz’ family was also present by way of a video teleconference.
“As of today, I still don’t fully understand or know the motive for the murder,” said the son whose name is not being published. “I was only 17-years old and I do not know if my father did something to these gentlemen personally.”
Pelaez-Vasquez with the help of a translator listened to the son’s plea.
Back then, Armendariz was an ordained catholic deacon at the St. Lawrence Catholic church in Heber City. He was also an outreach worker for immigrant families. His only tie to the killers was through Cunny Pelaez who once took lessons at Armendariz’ driving school.
During the 2007 sentencing, the then county attorney said the killers were hired to kill Armandariz.
“There are certain people that didn’t want Mr. Armendariz to continue cooperating the way he was, not that he was providing any specific information,” said Thomas Lowe, the former Wasatch County attorney.
At his parole hearing, Peleaz-Vasquez was evasive when attempting to explain the crime.
“I can’t really excuse what was done to the victims because the stuff that was done, that I done, are done for,” said Peleaz-Vasquez.
But the hearing officer who conducts the sessions for the Utah Board of Pardons also wanted to know the reason for the murder.
This was part of their exchange:
Hearing Officer: “Why did you do this?”
Peleaz-Vasquez: “To this moment I still don’t recall what event that might have happened.”
But the hearing officer reminded him if he wasn’t open it may be difficult for the board of pardons to release him.
Peleaz-Vasquez: “I know that I just killed the gentleman and that was it.”
Hearing officer: “But why did you do it?”Peleaz-Vasquez: “I don’t recall.”
In the end, Peleaz-Vasquez would not open up about the reason for the killing. The hearing will continue in November. Historically, the board of pardons requires truthfulness and remorse to assure they are no longer a danger to the community.
Meanwhile, Cunny Paleaz who was the shooter remains in prison for at least another 15-years before he’s eligible for parole.