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A Davis County man accused of causing a fatal crash while fleeing from police in a stolen car the culmination of a brief crime spree that involved a series of carjackings has pleaded guilty.
Anthony Santos Cruz, 27, of Fruit Heights, pleaded guilty Wednesday in 2nd District Court to first-degree felony murder for the Feb. 1 death of 21-year-old Jazmyn Jeppson. Cruz also pleaded guilty to a reduced second-degree felony count of robbery.
In exchange, two other counts of first-degree felony aggravated robbery were dismissed.
Cruz faces up to life in prison on the murder count and up to 15 years on the robbery count when he is sentenced Aug. 10 by Judge David Hamilton.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors will recommend that the prison terms run concurrently, according to defense attorney Todd Utzinger.
Also Wednesday, Utzinger said, he put on the court record an offer made some time ago by his client: that Cruz would like to meet face-to-face with Jeppson's family, and his other victims, to apologize and hear from them how they have been impacted by his actions.
Events leading up to Jeppson's death began at about 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, when a Mazda 6 driver called 911 and reported that her car had been stolen by a man and a woman who had run up to her vehicle.
"They pulled a knife on me and told me to get out of my car," the woman told a dispatcher, according to testimony at a March preliminary hearing. "She told me he was trying to attack her. She ran up and grabbed my door."
The carjackers were Cruz and 23-year-old Michelle Jenny Vigil, who according to evidence presented at the hearing was acting as "bait."
Cruz and Vigil drove away in the Mazda 6, but it broke down a few minutes later on the freeway in Centerville, according to court records. Cruz allegedly attempted to steal a second car, but that carjacking failed.
Minutes later, a Unified Police officer on his way to work drove up to the apparently stalled Mazda, which was stopped on southbound Interstate 15 near Lund Lane. The officer was initially unaware that the Mazda was stolen.
Cruz and Vigil told the officer they had run out of gas, but he contacted dispatchers and learned the car was stolen, according to court records.
Vigil allegedly tried to flee on foot as Cruz ran to a nearby black Volkswagen. After the driver jumped out, Cruz sped away southbound.
The fatal crash occurred moments later, when Cruz took the Parrish Lane exit, went through the intersection of the offramp and Parrish Lane and struck Jeppson's car, which was traveling east, according to police.
Vigil has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree felony robbery and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 17.