Home » News
Home » News

Hearing clears way for trial in Pineview Reservoir death

Published January 31, 2013 7:08 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ogden » Attorneys for two men accused of hitting a swimmer with their boat at Pineview Reservoir and then fleeing the scene are gearing up for the second trial in the death of Esther Fujimoto.

In December, a jury found a third man, Skyler Shepherd, 22, guilty for his role in Fujimoto's death. Last week, 2nd District Court Judge Ernie Jones gave him the maximum sentence of 2½ years in jail.

The other men — Colton Raines, 23, and Robert Cole Boyer, 30 — are preparing to head to trial in February on similar charges.

Shepherd told a detective with the Weber County Sheriff's Office that the three men were boating near the Spring Creek Cove area of Pineview Reservoir at about 8 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2011, when their boat hit Fujimoto, who was swimming about 300 feet from shore.

Shepherd told police that Raines was driving the boat at the time of the accident, but when they circled back to check on the woman, Shepherd had taken the wheel. Shepherd told police that Fujimoto told them she was OK, so they left.

Raines and Boyer have never talked with police about the incident.

Shepherd was convicted of misdemeanor charges of obstructing justice, reckless endangerment and failure to render aid. Raines faces the same charges, while Boyer is on trial for the singular charge of obstructing justice.

Attorneys for Raines and Boyer filed a motion earlier this month asking that medical examiner Todd Grey be limited in what he could testify to at trial. At Shepherd's trial, the medical examiner said Fujimoto likely would have suffered "horribly painful" injuries, and the swimmer likely knew that she was injured.

The attorneys, Greg Skordas and Rebecca Skordas, wrote that they wanted to limit references made by the medical examiner about the incident being similar to a shark attack — as he did in Shepherd's trialerd's trial — and to how visible Fujimoto's blood would been in the water.

Prosecutors agreed to limit references to shark attacks, but on Wednesday, Jones ruled that the discussion about the amount of pain Fujimoto was in, or the likelihood that she would have screamed and knew she was in pain, were fair game at trial.

Raines and Boyer's attorneys also objected to a video re-enactment being shown that was played during Shepherd's trial. In the video, it shows Weber County sheriff's detectives re-enacting the incident from their patrol boat, looking for whether screams could be heard or whether they could see into the water, to refute Shepherd's claim that they thought she was OK.

"I could see down into the water," Detective Scottie Sorensen testified during Shepherd's trial. "I could see [the swimmer's] legs. I could see his midsection, torso, and his arms, of course."

Shepherd' attorney, Glen Neeley, took issue with re-enactment, saying that many differences, including the fact that the swimmer in the video wasn't wearing a black wetsuit and it was not windy that day, could discredit the accuracy of the exercise.

Rebecca Skordas argued Wednesday that the video should not be shown and detectives should not be allowed to testify about the re-enactment because there were so many differences between the video and the actual event.

"Nearly every material that exists here is different," she said. "…The only thing that's left the same is the location."

Deputy Weber County Attorney Teral Tree said Wednesday that they agreed to not show the video to a jury, but still felt asking detectives about their experience should be allowed. Jones agreed.

Wednesday's oral arguments hearing was the last court date scheduled for the two men before their trial starts on Feb. 11. The trial is scheduled to run three days.


Twitter: @jm_miller






Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
comments powered by Disqus