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Defendant may face life in prison for murdering man in canyon

SHARE Defendant may face life in prison for murdering man in canyon

At the conclusion of Hilario Medina's murder trial Thursday, defense attorney Paul Quinlan reviewed what he said were "obvious" inconsistencies in the testimony provided by the state's key witness, Roberto Sanchez Martinez.

But after four hours of deliberation, the five-man, three-woman jury declared Medina, 32, guilty of murdering Edward Livsey, 62, and stealing his car. Third District Judge David S. Young could order Medina to spend life in prison during his sentencing hearing scheduled for Aug. 24.Among the inconsistencies noted by Quinlan:

- Martinez, 37, testified Medina used a folding knife to beat the victim, but investigators did not find Medina's fingerprints on the knife.

- Martinez testified that Medina had sex with Livsey before and after Livsey died, but DNA from semen found on Livsey's clothing only matched Livsey's own DNA.

- Martinez testified that Medina dragged Livsey's bound and strangled body into some bushes, but police found no evidence on the ground or on Livsey's clothing that he had been dragged.

- Martinez testified that Medina threatened to harm him if he ran away, but during the time Martinez was "forced" to stay with Medina, the men visited a casino and a lake in Las Vegas.

- When arrested, Martinez told police two different stories before telling them the version that incriminated Medina.

"It doesn't make sense," Quinlan told the jury. "Martinez's story does not fit with the physical evidence of the case."

"We believe they both (Martinez and Medina) were lying," said a member of Livsey's family, who would not state his name. "It's too bad that only one of them was charged."

Medina's attorneys said they were disappointed and plan to appeal the verdict.

"(Medina) wants us to do everything we can," said attorney Steve Shapiro.

Quinlan said the jury had some questions while deliberating that "seemed to indicate they had some reasonable doubt."

But, "we were up against an eyewitness," he said.

According to Martinez's testimony, Livsey and Medina picked him up on Aug. 25, 1997, near the Salt Lake City homeless shelter and asked him if he wanted a day's work.

Livsey then drove the men to a secluded area in Emigration Canyon where he and Medina engaged in sexual acts, Martinez said. The men were driving back when Livsey and Medina began an argument. Medina pulled out a knife and ordered Livsey to pull over and out of the car.

Outside, Medina continued to argue with Livsey. Martinez decided to take a bathroom break when he heard Livsey screaming. When he returned, Martinez saw Medina beating Livsey with a folding knife over the neck, causing Livsey to pass out.

Medina then used Livsey's shoelaces to tie Livsey's hands and ankles, and tied a bandana around Livsey's neck, Martinez said. Medina dragged the body behind some bushes and had sex with the body, he testified.

Medina and Martinez got into the car and drove to Mesquite, Nev., where Medina disposed of all the items in the car, Martinez said. Then they drove to Las Vegas, where they were later stopped and arrested.

Livsey's body was found the next day near Ruth's Diner, about 3000 E. Emigration Canyon. An autopsy revealed Livsey had been strangled.

Medina, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, maintained throughout the police investigation that he had bought the car from a man in a bar in Las Vegas for $300 with money he had earned while working in Phoenix a few weeks earlier. He claimed he had never been in Utah, but police found a UTA student bus pass and a local grocery store discount card.

Martinez was charged with theft, a second-degree felony, but prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to a class A misdemeanor in exchange for his testimony. In accordance with the plea bargain, Martinez will be deported to his native Mexico.