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Father recalls watching son die, as smoke shop murder hearing begins

Published October 10, 2012 5:58 pm

Court • A fight with a loitering stranger preceded shooting.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The group relaxed and started talking about the brief fight that had broken out in their Salt Lake City smoke shop.

A man who had been drinking and loitering in the parking lot of C.J.'s Smoke Shop, near the corner of 900 West and 800 South, was asked to leave. And when he disrespected Stephen Guadalupe Chavez's father, the 26-year-old man fought with the stranger.

The fight ended quickly, with the stranger fleeing. So the group of four men and one woman went back to eating and drinking, waiting for closing time on the night of March 14.

Half an hour later, the man from the fight came back.

On Wednesday, 26-year-old Yelfris Sosa-Hurtado sat with his hands shackled behind his back, as the group inside the smoke shop recalled the shooting that took Stephen Chavez's life.

The hearing, which will determine whether Sosa-Hurtado and his alleged getaway driver, 38-year-old Vladimir Suarez-Campos, will stand trial on murder and other charges, is set to continue Thursday in 3rd District Court.

"I told my son, 'Get down, baby. Get down," Isabel Chavez, the man's father, testified during the preliminary hearing. "It was too late."

Isabel Chavez said Sosa-Hurtado, wearing a long coat and carrying a long gun, came back to the shop.

" 'I'm going to kill you mother f——-,' " Isabel Chavez said he heard the man say before he opened fire.

Manuela Trujillo, who was just about to grab another beer from the cooler, heard the man say only, "Is that right?"

The first shot narrowly missed Isabel Chavez, smashing through a display case and shattering the glass.

Chavez said he watched as Sosa-Hurtado held the gun just a few inches from his son's heart and fired again. As Stephen Chavez sank behind the counter, the man fired twice more, Isabel Chavez said.

He held his hands against his son until he was covered with blood. Later, he pulled the shards of glass from his leg by himself. He said he hadn't felt pain at the time.

Witnesses said they saw the man walk backward out of the shop and continue firing.

Suarez-Campos, who was outside the shop during the shooting, faces one count of murder, a first-degree felony, and nine counts of felony discharge of a firearm for his alleged role in the killing.

Sosa-Hurtado faces a charge of aggravated murder and nine counts of felony discharge of a firearm. Prosecutors could seek the death penalty in his case.


Twitter: @aaronfalk






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