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Pair of life sentences for triggerman in murder at Utah church

Published March 7, 2014 8:14 pm

Court • 23-year-old will likely never be released from prison for the 2011 murder.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's not just that Hairam Torres was murdered, his mother said Friday.

It's that since then, she has had to suffer mocking from the triggerman's family. Even as she arrived at the courthouse Friday, she told the judge, the defendant's family took a photograph of her.

The mother asked that the shooter, Anthony V. Corona, serve consecutive life sentences.

"All I ask of you, your honor, is justice," the mother said through a Spanish translator. She later asked the Tribune not identify her for fear of retaliation from Corona's family.

Third District Court Judge Vernice Trease on Friday agreed with Torres' mother. She sentenced Corona to consecutive sentences of up to life in prison for charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. She also sentenced him to six other consecutive prison terms for lesser, related charges. The math makes it unlikely Corona, 23, will ever be released from prison.

Another defendant in the case, Christian Lizarzaburu, was sentenced Friday to two consecutive terms of 1 to 15 years in prison and a third concurrent term of the same. He earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter, robbery and obstruction of justice.

Corona chose not to speak Friday. His attorney, Peter Goodall, asked for concurrent sentences and other favorable rulings that could have made Corona eligible for parole in as little as 25 years. Goodall argued Corona had a bad childhood, was addicted to methamphetamine during the shooting and didn't plan to kill anyone that night.

"Mr. Corona is a bright young man," Goodall said. "He has lead a hard life that has lead him to a very difficult position."

Prosecutors asked for the harsher sentence. After issuing her sentence, Trease said she found too many aggravating factors. She was not impressed with the argument about Corona's intentions, either.

"I don't know what someone would think when they take a gun to a robbery," Trease said.

On Dec. 10, 2011, another defendant in the case, Eddie Garza, now 23, initially hatched the plot to rob Torres while he was hanging out with Lizarzaburu, Lucinda Fernandez and a juvenile at Fernandez's West Valley City home, according to court testimony.

Since none of them had a weapon, Garza said he called Corona and asked if he wanted to "make some money." After borrowing his cousin's rental car — a gold Chevy Malibu — Garza, the juvenile and Lizarzaburu picked up Corona and drove to meet Torres at the church parking lot at 4270 S. Falcon St. (4145 West), Garza testified.

Lizarzaburu testified that he and the juvenile got out of the car and hid behind a shed at the church so they could "assist if anything went wrong." Torres arrived soon after, and climbed into the back seat of the Malibu.

Garza said he began talking with Torres about a drug deal, but the situation somehow escalated and he heard Corona yell, "Don't reach for that," several times. Corona fired his gun.

Torres was shot twice in the chest and twice in his left arm.

Lizarzaburu, 35, and Garza, 23, pleaded guilty in 2012 to manslaughter, robbery and obstruction of justice.

Trease sentenced Garza on Jan. 31 of this year to serve consecutive sentences of one to 15 years in prison and another concurrent term of 1 to 15 years.

Lucinda Fernandez, 30, pleaded guilty to felony counts of attempted robbery and obstruction of justice. She received credit for 195 days served in jail and was released to serve three years of probation.


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