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Bail hearings held for two arrested in fatal Orem shooting

Published November 20, 2013 2:57 pm

Courts • The other suspect in fatal Orem shooting is held in jail without bail.
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The two men arrested in connection to the fatal shooting of a driver whose car then crashed through an Orem neighborhood appeared in court on Wednesday for a bail hearing.

Because he was already on probation for another felony case, Travis Waldron, 24, is now being held at the Utah County jail without bail.

However, 24-year-old Mason French was granted an opportunity for bail, but it was set at $1 million cash-only.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson said Wednesday afternoon that he asked the judge for the two different bail amounts based on Waldron's probation history — it is a violation to commit a felony while on felony probation.

And while both men were being held on suspicion of murdering 42-year-old Rupert E. Miley, Johnson said it would be "premature" to say whether homicide charges will be filed against both men, or just one.

Waldron and French both were booked into jail on suspicion of murder and obstruction of justice; Waldron also is suspected of a firearms violation.

On Wednesday, Orem police Lt. Craig Martinez would not identify whether French or Waldron allegedly shot Miley before his vehicle crashed early Tuesday morning.

Orem police initially thought 42-year-old Rupert E. Miley had died from injuries suffered in the 3:15 a.m. traffic crash. The vehicle was traveling west in the eastbound lanes, when it struck a light pole, plowed into some trees and road signs, and destroyed a fire hydrant, coming to a rest near 200 East and 800 North, according to Martinez. Miley was found unconscious at the scene and later died at a hospital.

"Shortly after the investigation started, things weren't adding up," Martinez wrote in a press release. "The amount of blood on the driver didn't match the injuries that the officers could see."

Investigators soon discovered Miley had suffered a gunshot wound to the back, Martinez said. A revolver later was found at the scene of the crash.

A muzzle blast mark was later found on the back of the driver's seat, and a bullet hole was found going through the seat-back, according to an Orem police report.

According to police, French was riding in the car when it crashed, and after he provided details to police that didn't match up with evidence at the scene, officers took him into custody. Officers later learned that Waldron may have also been in the car, and he was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

Martinez said Wednesday that the three men were "acquaintances" of one another. He said police believe they know a motive for the crime, but he would not publicly discuss it.

Both French and Waldron will be back in court next Wednesday, Johnson said, for their initial appearance. Johnson said prosecutors have until then to file official charges against the two men.

This is not the first run-in with the law in Utah for either man.

Waldron pleaded guilty to drug and theft charges, including one felony, in two separate cases in 2012. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges in two separate cases in 2009 and to drug and disorderly conduct charges in 2007.

French was charged in March with felony possession of a controlled substance and is awaiting trial. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to charges of underage alcohol consumption and false identification. He pleaded no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct in 2007.

Miley had a history of mostly minor criminal convictions, beginning in 2004 with misdemeanor convictions for drug possession and criminal mischief, according to Utah court records.

Since then he had pleaded guilty in four other drug cases, including a third-degree felony for which he was sentenced to a year in jail, and an assault case.

In October, Miley was charged with misdemeanor counts of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. A pre-trial conference in that case had been set for next month in Orem's justice court.


Twitter: @jm_miller






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