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West Jordan » A jury found a 22-year-old man guilty Thursday of fatally stabbing an 18-year-old woman on the Jordan River Parkway during a 2010 drug deal gone bad.
Cristian Alzaga was convicted of first-degree felony murder for the May 26, 2010 slaying of Heather Quast.
Amber Quast, just a few months younger now than her sister when she was killed, said a silent prayer as she awaited the verdict.
When the verdict was read the girl's father let out a soft cry and wrapped his arms around his family.
"It means relief and closure," Jerry Quast said of the verdict.
Alzaga also was convicted of first-degree felony aggravated robbery and second-degree felony aggravated assault.
He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced March 12 by 3rd District Judge Bruce Lubeck.
As he waited for the verdict to be read, Heather Quast's boyfriend, Aric Russom, rolled a small metal cross through his trembling fingers, as he had done throughout the four-day trial.
Russom, 23, and Quast were living in a tent along the Jordan River Parkway in the spring of 2010 when a friend, Jose Neri, arranged to buy an ounce of marijuana from Russom, according to court testimony.
Instead, Alzaga and Neri attempted to rob the couple of the marijuana and other drugs they believed the couple had.
Russom said he saw Quast lifted "up in the air" from the force of a stabbing. He told the woman to run and as he backed away was stabbed above the eye by Alzaga.
Russom still has a scar above his left eye from the attack.
On his arm, there is another mark: a tattoo he and many of Quast's family and friends got in her memory.
"Heather was a kind girl. She was selfless," her mother, Rashell Quast, said as she rolled up her sleeve to show her own tattoo.
During the trial, Alzaga's attorneys argued that another man, 22-year-old Cristian Garcia, was the one who stabbed Quast. Garcia has been charged with murder in the deadly robbery but has never been arrested.
A trial for Neri, now 21, is scheduled to begin in March.